By John Lee.
Qatar Airways has launched flights to Basra, its fourth destination in Iraq. The new services, operating four-times-a-week non-stop from the airline's Doha hub, takes the carrier's global network to 128 destinations worldwide.
The launch also marks the rapid expansion by Qatar Airways in Iraq since the middle of 2012 when it began flights to Erbil, followed by the capital Baghdad and, earlier this year, Najaf.
With today's route launch, Qatar Airways' frequency across Iraq rises from 12 to 16 flights each week - representing a more than 25% increase in services.
The arrival of Qatar Airways' flight QR448 was welcomed at Basra International Airport with a reception presided by local officials. Fathi Al Shehab, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President GCC, Levant, Iran and Indian Subcontinent led an official delegation on the flight from Doha.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said he was delighted to see additional flights open up another entry point to Iraq:
"The Republic of Iraq has been on our list of expansion priorities for some time and the last 12 months have seen us move forward very quickly opening up four new gateways in Iraq with a fifth Sulaymaniyah starting in August.
"Qatar Airways' commitment is strong as we continue to build on our already strong relationship between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Iraq. Opening up Iraq to the world with more travel options and flexibility has always been part of our general strategy to enter underserved markets and give the travelling public to and from such places the ability to travel with greater choice, bringing the world closer to them."