Trade and business links between the State of Qatar and Western Australia are poised to strengthen following high-level talks between airline and regional government officials on the back of newly-launched flights by Qatar Airways to Perth.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker held separate meetings with the Premier of Western Australia, The Honourable Colin Barnett and the President of the State’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) John Atkins to discuss new trade, business and investment opportunities.
The meetings were also attended by Qatar’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Australia, His Excellency Yousef Ali Al Khater; Australia’s Ambassador to Qatar, His Excellency Pablo Kang, as well as regional government and airline officials.
Qatar Airways launched non-stop flights between its Doha hub and Western Australia’s capital city Perth on July 3. With return flights to Doha connecting onto a diverse international network of destinations spanning over 100 cities, the people of Perth have a wide choice of travel options to Europe, Africa, Middle East and The Americas.
Perth is Australia’s fourth largest city and contains the bulk of Western Australia’s population with 2.4 million people living in and around the city.
Its economy has been growing rapidly over the past few years, driven by Western Australia’s mining boom and associated industries. The city has also been the fastest growing for more than 10 years of any of Australia’s state capitals.
State Premier, The Honorable Colin Barnett said Qatar Airways’ arrival into Perth was a big boost to the city as the additional air capacity not only heightened competition, but also gave both businesses and holidaymakers more choice. He said the wide African network, in particular, offered by Qatar Airways would appeal greatly to the rich mining community of Western Australia, boosting business links with mining centres across the African continent.
Since the exploration of petroleum in Western Australia in the 1960s, the state has only been exporting its findings for the past two decades. The Premier said both Qatar and Western Australia shared many similarities in oil and gas exploration, which both were exploiting to their fullest to drive their respective economies.
President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) John Atkins said he was delighted Qatar Airways had entered the Perth market as the new services would benefit not only the people of Western Australia’s capital city, but also the state as a whole.
Western Australia has more than 8,000 CCI members, comprising small to large-sized companies across all industries, with mining, energy and tourism among the key sectors.
Atkins said the CCI had recently carried out a study on cargo operations from Perth, concluding more freighter capacity was desperately needed to meet the high demand.
With cargo carryings potentially huge, centring on the agricultural and pharmaceutical industries, Al Baker said the airline would consider expanding its Perth passenger operations in the future to include dedicated freighter services.
Al Baker also expressed interest in expanding the airline’s hospitality business to Perth. Acknowledging a shortage of hotel rooms in the city – only 4,000 – Al Baker said Perth offered great potential and the airline’s Oryx-branded five-star hotel division, of which there is so far only one property in Doha, would be a good fit for Australia. A second Oryx hotel is currently under construction in Doha.
He said Qatar Airways was already preparing to increase passenger capacity to Perth with additional flights introduced in December to make it a daily service. This, he stressed, was indicative of the tremendous amount of faith the airline had in Australia’s mining capital and one of the country’s richest states.
During the talks, Atkins said the CCI looked forward to next year’s 8th World Chambers Congress in Qatar. The four-day event, being held in the Middle East for the first time between April 22 – 25, will attract representatives from over 12,000 chambers across more than 100 countries, giving delegates opportunities to share ideas, best practices and develop new business connections.
In addition to the Perth schedules, Qatar Airways also operates daily non-stop scheduled flights between Melbourne and Doha using its signature Boeing 777 long-range aircraft.
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 15 years of operation, currently flying a modern fleet of 109 aircraft to 117 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.
Since the beginning of the year, Qatar Airways has begun services to Baku (Azerbaijan); Tbilisi (Georgia); Zagreb (Croatia), Kigali (Rwanda), Erbil (Iraq), Baghdad (Iraq) and Perth (Australia), with many more new destinations planned during 2012.
Over the next few months, Qatar Airways launches services to a diverse portfolio of new routes, including Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (July 25); Mombasa, Kenya (August 15); Yangon, Myanmar (Oct 3); Maputo, Mozambique (October 31) and a date yet-to-be-announced to the Serbian capital Belgrade.