Qatar Airways is ramping up its expansion into the United States regardless of what ever concerns American, United and Delta Air Lines may have.
This week, Qatar Airways announced it will commence service between its home base in Doha, Qatar and the United States using its new fleet of Airbus A350 jets.
A350 service in the US kick on January 1, 2016 on its Doha to Philadelphia route.
“We are proud to be the first commercial airline to land the Airbus A350 in the United States,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said in a statement.
“As the global launch customer of this new-generation aircraft, we are excited to introduce it to the American market.”
Qatar Airways currently operates to 152 destinations around the world including New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Houston and Washingston D.C. in the US.
In 2016, the airline plans to open routes from Doha to Los Angeles in January, Boston in March and Atlanta in June.
The Persian Gulf-based airline has grown rapidly over the past decade and currently boasts a fleet of 168 aircraft with another 330 jets on order valued at more than $70 billion.
In June, Qatar Airways was named Airline of the Year for 2015 by leading aviation consumer organisation Skytrax — it’s a prize the airline also took home in 2011 and 2012.
Qatar’s success has not been without its critics. American, United and Delta Air Lines have accused Qatar along with Etihad and Emirates of fuelling their palatial terminals, luxury service and massive fleets with $42 billion in government subsidies.
The coalition of US airlines have petitioned the US State Department to reevaluate the “Open Skies” agreements between the US and the Gulf States, which allow airlines to fly freely between the countries.
Qatar, Emirates and Etihad all refute these accusations. Al Baker told Bloomberg News on Wednesday that whatever money his airline has received from the government of Qatar has been in the form of investment in exchange for equity.
Al Baker’s fellow Middle Eastern airline CEO echos his sentiments. “At the end of the day. We have a shareholder who placed equity in the airline who gave us loans to be repaid. That’s what people do when they invest in the business,” Etihad CEO James Hogan told Business Insider.
“We’ve done nothing improper. We’ve created a great airline, with great service, created value, and the accounts are audited by one of the top accounting firms in the world.”
Qatar is the launch partner for the Airbus A350-900 twin-engine long-range airliner. The airline expects to have eight of the jets in its fleet by the end of the year with 72 more on order.
The A350 is powered by a pair of powerful and efficient Rolls-Royce Trent turbofan engines. The jet can carry many as 325 passengers in three-class with a range of 8,700 miles.