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Qatar Airways Mulls US Expansion

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A Qatar Airways executive said Tuesday the carrier will look to expand further in the Americas and Australia as part of a long-term growth plan.
The Middle Eastern carrier began U.S. service with flights to Washington last year from its base in Qatar’s capital city of Doha. The carrier also added flights to New York. But a plan to expand to Houston stalled after deliveries of long-range Boeing (nyse: BA – news – people )-777 aircraft were delayed because of a machinists strike at Boeing. The airline now expects to launch that route in March.
Executive Vice President Ali M. Al Rais told a press luncheon Tuesday he sees future growth in the North American market, but did not specify which cities the carrier is eyeing next. He also said the carrier is looking to add service to South America and Australia – two continents where it does not currently fly.
Qatar currently has 64 aircraft, only 4 of which are Boeing 777s. The rest are made by Airbus. It has 168 Boeing aircraft on order, and 13 Airbus. The jets on order are worth about $40 billion.
The carrier said it hopes to grow its fleet eventually to 120 to 150 jets, with an average fleet age of about 3 to 3.5 years.
Al Rais said the company will “visualize and adjust” its growth plan according to global economic conditions.
But he shrugged off suggestions that the carrier might be affected by the slowing global economy.

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