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Qatar Airways starts Hangzhou flights

Updated: 2013-12-23 17:35
By Yan Yiqi in Hangzhou (

Hangzhou has become Qatar Airways' seventh destination in China.

The first direct flight to Hangzhou launched by the airline from Doha, the Qatari capital, arrived on Friday. The 260-seat Airbus 330 service will operate four times a week.

As one of the three major airlines in the Middle East, the company operates a fleet serving more than 130 destinations worldwide.

It began services to China with the route to Shanghai in 2003 and over the past 10 years has also launched flights to Beijing, Hong Kong, Chengdu, Chongqing and Guangzhou. It has 45 flights to and from China each week.

Akbar Al Baker, the airline's chief executive officer, said the booming tourism industry and Hangzhou's rapid GDP growth were two major factors in the decision to start services to the city.

"The market potential in Hangzhou is tremendous," he said. Al Baker believes China's outbound tourism has seen significantly rapid growth over the past decade and that Hangzhou has attracted global attention.

He also says the fact that Hangzhou is only a two-hour drive from Shanghai carries huge weight.

Zhang Huixin, a researcher with the Zhejiang Communications Department, said, "Hangzhou is only a one-hour train ride from Yiwu, the world's largest small commodities wholesale center."

This could be a "win-win situation", Zhang added.

According to unofficial statistics, more than 40 percent of Yiwu companies have business links with clients in Africa, and more than 50,000 African clients travel to Yiwu annually for business.

Qatar Airways had scheduled flights to 17 destinations in Africa by the end of November.