Qatar Airways plans to start domestic Saudi operations under its Al Maha Airways brand from November.
Speaking to media on the opening day of Arabian Travel Market, CEO Akbar Al Baker said it has appointed a CEO to run the new operation and will operate eight A320s in the Kingdom.
“At the moment we are filing for our AOC and hopefully this will be issued imminently,” he said.
The airline will start business class flights to London Heathrow from May 15 and the first of 13 A380s on order will fly to the UK hub airport from June 17.
This month will also see new flights to Hofuf (May 15), Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen (May 22) and Edinburgh (May 28), and thereafter will start flights to Miami (June 10), Haneda (June 18), Dallas Fort Worth (July 1) and Djibouti (July 27).
Al Baker said it will receive “definitely one” of its new A350s this year and its fleet will be in excess of 170 aircraft within two years.
Yesterday Etihad Airways unveiled opulent ‘apartments’ that will appear on the upper decks of its new A380s from December – and Qatar Airways claims it will offer the widest first class seats in the industry on its aircraft.
But Al Baker said airlines continue to see low demand for first class, especially after the 2008 crash.
Qatar Airways was voted Best Regional Airline Serving the Middle East at the Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2014 last night.