Qatar Airways has notched up its fifth US destination with the start of daily flights to Philadelphia.
The inaugural flight, QR727, departed Doha 0105 on Wednesday and arrived in Philadelphia 0755 (Wednesday), where it was greeted by the customary water cannon salute. The service is operated by a two-class B777-300ER with 42 business and 217 economy seats.
Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said it expects to attract 60 per cent transfer traffic and 40 per cent origin and destination.
In a week which saw TAM Airlines and US Airways switch from Star Alliance to Oneworld, fellow Oneworld member Qatar will look to capitalise on traffic opportunities with US Airways. As well as scooping up the US airline’s passengers onto its global network, the fast-growing Gulf carrier will look to grow its inbound business through codeshare deals with US Airways and American Airlines. “It will be a lot more than 10 destinations, as much as 100,” he said.
The US is a key focus for Qatar Airways this year as it launches flights to Miami (June 10) and Dallas Fort Worth (July 1) this summer, and Al Baker said double-daily Philadelphia flights were a possibility should it see demand.
Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter said the new service will generate $95 million in economic benefits and attract 27,000 visitors.
US Airways’ Oneworld entrance and Qatar’s arrival should provide the “spark” for the eastern city airport, which handles 30.5 million passengers a year, as it competes in the shadow of international hubs such as New York JFK and Washington Dulles.
“We’ve now had five new services in 11 months and that’s encouraging when you think before that we had nothing new in eight years,” he said.