Browsing 'qatar airways' News

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Qatar’s national carrier has signed a multi-million dollar deal with FIFA to become an official sponsor for the next five years.

This means Qatar Airways’ name will be on several upcoming football-related events around the world, including the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as well as the 2022 World Cup in its own backyard.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed by FIFA or the airline.

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FIFA headquarters

But in a statement, the world’s football governing body called it “one of the biggest sporting sponsorships in the world and the largest in the history of Qatar Airways.”

This likely puts the cost of the deal in the hundreds of millions of dollar range, in line with at least three of FIFA’s other current major partners: Adidas, Coca-Cola and Hyundai.

Embattled organization

The deal comes as FIFA attempts to recover from the biggest corruption scandal in its history.

In 2015, several officials faced bribery and racketeering charges in the US. Also that year, FIFA’s longtime top boss Sepp Blatter was banned from football activities for the foreseeable future.

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FIFA Congress

FIFA has also been dogged by unproven allegations that Qatar and Russia bought hosting rights to the World Cup.

These claims, taken with FIFA’s recent promise to uphold human rights in Qatar amid international concerns, has some wondering if the new tie-up will create conflicts of interest.

Still, the deal is sure to help the Swiss-based organization with its recent financial woes. It reported a $369 million loss during its 2016 fiscal year.

And a few years before this, high-profile sponsors Sony and Emirates declined to renew their partnerships with FIFA.

Second-tier partners have also pulled out in recent years, including Johnson & Johnson and Castrol.

According to Reuters, FIFA is now still on the hunt for second-tier World Cup sponsors and third-tier regional supporters.

‘Natural partner’

In a statement about the new Qatar Airways tie-up, FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura said:

“FIFA is delighted to partner with the world’s fastest-growing airline, Qatar Airways. Known for introducing industry firsts, Qatar Airways is an ideal partner for FIFA as we prepare for the first-ever World Cup in the Gulf region, the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker with FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

For its part, Qatar Airways, which also has partnerships with FC Barcelona, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli FC and other sporting events, said the tie-up makes perfect sense.

Its CEO Akbar Al Baker called FIFA “a natural partner,” adding:

“We look forward to celebrating wins with the fans, being inspired by the artistry of the players, and to the excitement of each match over the next two FIFA competition cycles, until the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will be proudly held in our home country, the State of Qatar.”

Thoughts?

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Travelers who choose to stop over in Doha this summer while flying Qatar Airways will now get one free night’s stay at a luxury hotel, the airline has announced.

Participating venues include The Four Seasons, Marriott Marquis, Radisson Blu and Oryx Rotana. A second night’s stay at some hotels would cost only $50, officials said.

However, this doesn’t apply to all venues. The Four Seasons for example, told Doha News that the second night would cost more.

The offer comes as the country struggles to attract visitors amid growing competition and a down market.

Hamad International Airport

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Hamad International Airport

It also follows the November rollout of free transit visas for Qatar Airways passengers who are in Doha for five to 96 hours.

Transit traffic

Last year, government figures showed that seven out of every 10 travelers using Qatar’s airport were just passing through, and are not living in or visiting the country.

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In a statement, a senior Qatar Tourism Authority official (QTA) said this is changing thanks to the new visas.

There was a 53 percent increase in stopover visitors last month, compared to March 2016, Chief Tourism Development Officer Hassan Al-Ibrahim said, adding:

“We aim to convert a larger portion of the 30 million passengers passing through Hamad International Airport into stopover visitors.

We are delighted to make Qatar more accessible to people from around the world and invite them to discover our country, our cultural heritage and our natural treasures.”

Terms and conditions

According to Qatar Airways’ website, tickets for this promotion must be booked by Aug. 31.

But the hotel stay can be used until Sept. 30. However, the offer is not available during either Eid Al Fitr or Eid Al Adha holidays.

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First and business class passengers can book one free night at a five-star hotel, and economy travelers can book at a four-star one.

Visitors should be able to schedule their stay online after confirming their “multi-city” flight on Qatar Airways‘ website.

A minimum transiting time of 12 hours is required to use the offer, which is not available to those who book codeshare flights.

Transit visas can also be booked online here, and just like the hotel offer must be done at least seven working days prior to travel.

Other terms and conditions can be found here.

By the numbers

QTA has not released any official tourism figures since the third quarter of last year. At that time, it announced a year-on-year drop in visitors.

However, it’s likely that things have not improved much since then.

Last month, local hoteliers said urgent action must be taken to protect the future of tourism in Qatar.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

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Amid falling occupancy and room rates, some hotel managers suggested new food and beverage offerings could help boost their bottom lines.

Officials may also be hoping that visitors who aren’t paying for their hotel stays or visas this summer will spend more money on shopping, city tours and desert safaris.

Thoughts?

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Qatar Airways plans to fly to some 26 new destinations in the coming year, including to the northern California city of San Francisco, the airline has announced.

Other new routes include Cardiff, UK; Utapao, Thailand; Chittagong, Bangladesh; Mykonos, Greece; Málaga, Spain; Accra, Ghana; Lisbon, Portugal; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Prague, Czech Republic; Kiev, Ukraine and Mombasa, Kenya, the airline said in a statement.

The 12 routes will all launch in 2018, and are in addition to 14 already announced destinations for 2017-2018.

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The view from Mount Taylor, Canberra

Those include Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, Canberra in Australia, Santiago in Chile and Medan in Indonesia.

Speaking to reporters at the annual Arabian Travel Market in Dubai this week, CEO Akbar Al Baker said that if the airline’s aircraft orders come in on time, all 26 new routes will begin by March 2018.

That’s the end of Qatar’s financial year.

US routes

Qatar Airways already flies nonstop from Doha to 10 US cities, including Los Angeles.

It also has plans to launch a route to Las Vegas early next year, though this has now been pushed back to the second quarter of 2018, Bloomberg reports.

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The new US destinations come despite a drop in bookings following a new electronics ban onboard planes flying directly from the Middle East to the states.

According to AP, Al Baker said the airline was not deterred by recent events, including questions about potential visa bans on certain passengers.

“Qatar Airways does not plan and will not reduce frequencies to the United States. I am sure that these uncertainties that passengers have soon could be resolved by statements from the United States’ government.”

Cardiff

While both of Qatar Airways’ Gulf competitors already fly to San Francisco, Qatar will be the first to launch a direct service to Cardiff, the capital of Wales.

The airline has not yet disclosed how many times per week it plans to fly to the city.

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Cardiff Castle

However, the route should also allow Qatar Airways to reach new customers who have previously been unable to fly long-haul from their local airport.

According to Cardiff Airport, more than 1 million passengers travel every year from Wales to destinations that are on the Qatar Airways network, and more than 90 percent of these currently have to travel via London.

Cardiff will be the airline’s fifth current UK route, in addition to London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Thoughts?