12/04/2011 00:00 AST

Qatar Airways Cargo has announced an expansion of its dedicated freighter routes with new services to Hanoi, Kozhikode and Bengaluru. Freighter operations to Kozhikode and onto Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, are served with an Airbus A300 freighter on the route boosting Qatar Airways Cargo freighter capacity in India by an additional 40 metric tonnes a week.

Cargo flights from Doha to Hanoi begin on April 15, stopping in Hong Kong on the return sector. The weekly service is operated with one of the airline's dedicated Boeing 777 freighters and follows the successful launch of passenger flights to the Vietnamese capital in November 2010. Qatar Airways also operates scheduled services to Ho Chi Minh City and is the only Gulf carrier flying to Vietnam.

In India, Qatar Airways currently operates passenger and cargo flights to 12 cities. The additional freighter service to Kozhikode and Bengaluru will complement existing cargo operations to Kolkata, the West Bengali city that will also become a passenger route when Qatar Airways commences daily flights on July 27. Cargo payloads include a multitude of goods ranging from medical and pharmaceutical supplies to vegetables and personal effects.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said that the new freighter services presented an opportunity to grow business in Vietnam and also bring welcomed extra capacity to the airline's cargo operations in India.

"Adding Hanoi to our cargo network is an astute move for us as we've identified this as a major growth market," he said, adding, "Vietnam exports a lot of manufacturing goods and it is the world's second highest exporter of rice.

"In India, we've seen a big upward trend in cargo movements. By coupling Kozhikode with Bengaluru on this new cargo route from Doha, we ensure that we are utilising the available space onboard our freighter to the maximum.

"The market in India is still growing and we see more opportunities on the horizon. We are not only catering for the needs of Qatar, but also for freight forwarders looking to send goods beyond our Doha hub to destinations across the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America."

Last year, Qatar Airways launched its first North American cargo route with dedicated freighter operations to Chicago - and received two of its three Boeing 777 freighters on order. Cargo operations for the airline will move to New Doha International Airport when the $14.5bn facility becomes operational. With Bengaluru, Kozhikode and Hanoi added, the number of freighter destinations served increases to 29 destinations.

By 2013, Qatar Airways plans to serve over 120 key business and leisure destinations worldwide with a modern fleet of more than 120 aircraft. Today, the airline's fleet stands at 97 aircraft, flying to 100 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North and South America.


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