A sleek and brand new Qatar Airways Being 787 Dreamliner made its way on the tarmac of the Penang International Airport (PIA) as it was given the customary water salute by two fire fighting engines.
Flight QR 850 from Doha touched down at 2.40pm yesterday to mark the inaugural flight from Hamad International Airport to Penang.
On hand to greet some 242 passengers was Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng along with Qatar Airways Chief Commercial Officer Esab Amin, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to Malaysia Essa Mohamed Al-Mannai, Malaysian Ambassador to Qatar Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin and Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad Managing Director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has 22 business class seats which also come with double beds. For a start, the airline will fly to PIA three times a week.
Qatar Airways has a distinguished history as it has won many global awards in the aviation industry. Among them are Skytrax Airline of the Year 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017 respectively.
The airlines’ fleet includes Airbus and Boeing aircraft, namely the long-range Boeing 777 passenger and freight aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 747F, Airbus A380, A340, A330, A340 to name a few.
Qatar Airways’ twin-deck Airbus A380-800 “super jumbo” is the world’s largest aircraft capable of carrying 517 passengers in a luxurious configuration.
“We are delighted to launch direct flights to Penang, a long anticipated addition to our global route network. The addition of Penang to our global network comes as part of our continued expansion plans throughout Eastern Asia,” says Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker.
Later, at a press conference held at the Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Qatar Airways Chief Commercial Officer Esab Amin announced that the Penang route will be boosted to a four-times weekly frequency effective July 1, 2018.
Meanwhile, Badlisham says PIA’s capacity will be increased from 6.5 million to 12 million by next year under a RM700 million expansion plan.
“There is no need for an additional runway. The apron and taxiway will be expanded. We will have a separate domestic wing and an international wing, both under one roof.
“We are looking at building a multi-storey car park with a capacity of 2,000 parking bays and will have to talk to the local authorities on traffic management around the PIA area, says Badlisham.