Qatar Airways has expanded its route network over the past two years despite a blockade of the Gulf state’s airspace by hostile neighbours, the company CEO said.
Akbar Al Baker was speaking at a VIP dinner at the Malta Hilton where the airline formally celebrated the opening of a new Malta route.
Al Baker said Qatar Airways had a fleet of more than 250 aircraft with an average age of five years that serviced more than 160 destinations. The airline operates via its hub, Hamad International Airport, in Doha, Qatar.
“This is what the illegal blockade did to us… we continued to expand,” Al Baker told guests. He was referring to the airspace blockade imposed on Qatar two years ago by Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf region.
Tenor Joseph Calleja enterteined the guests
The Malta-Doha route started operating last month with daily flights during the summer months. Malta also joined the Qatar Airways air freight network, with the carrier’s cargo arm offering a total capacity of 21 tonnes to and from Malta each week.
In winter the flight schedule will scale down to four flights per week.
The VIP dinner was attended by President George Vella, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, Economy Minister Chris Cardona and Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela.
The highlight of the evening was a performance of opera classics sung by tenor Joseph Calleja, who flew in for the event from France where he is currently rehearsing for the opera Tosca.