Qatar Airways’ first non-stop flight to Penang touched down on Tuesday at Penang International Airport, inaugurating its second destination in Malaysia.
The new route forms part of the airline’s robust expansion plans in South-east Asia.
Qatar Airways flight QR850, operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, departed Hamad International Airport at 2.30am on Tuesday and arrived at Penang at 2.30pm.
The delegation led by Qatar Airways chief commercial officer Ehab Amin was accompanied by Malaysian ambassador to Qatar Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin.
The VIP delegation was greeted in Penang by Qatari ambassador to Malaysia HE Essa bin Mohamed al-Mannai, Penang’s Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad managing director Datuk Badlisham bin Ghazali and Penang Global Tourism CEO Ooi Chok Yan.
“We are delighted to launch direct flights to Penang, a long-anticipated addition to our global route network. Our Kuala Lumpur service started in 2001, and it has since grown to a triple-daily direct non-stop service to and from Doha,” Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker said.
“We are tremendously pleased to now be able to offer our passengers another exciting destination to experience in this beautiful country,” he noted.
Qatar Airways flight QR850, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, receives a traditional water cannon salute at Penang on Tuesday.
Al-Baker stressed that the addition of Penang to the airline’s global network comes as part of its continued expansion plans throughout Eastern Asia.
Qatar Airways recently launched direct services to Thailand’s Chiang Mai and Pattaya, as well as adding services to Krabi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said: “We offer a Unesco World Heritage city that is captivating not only our cultural diversity and religious harmony but also in offering our natural beauty and world class tourism products.”
With the current triple-daily frequencies to Kuala Lumpur, which cater to the many passengers travelling to destinations in North America and Europe, Ghazali said they believe that the same demand for these destinations from Penang is growing rapidly.
As one of the busiest airports in Malaysia, PIA recorded 7mn passenger movements last year.
“It is without doubt that the airport is the hub for northern Malaysia, bearing potential for increased connectivity. Having worked together for the past 17 years, we take pleasure in welcoming Qatar Airways, which will be another great addition to the existing international airlines at PIA,” Ghazali added.
With this new route, Qatar Airways will be the first Middle Eastern carrier to offer non-stop flight service from Doha to Penang, a city well known for being a Unesco World Heritage City.
At a press conference held at the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang, Amin, announced the Penang route will be boosted to a four-times-weekly frequency from July 1.
Until then, Qatar Airways will fly three times a week to Penang with its state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which features 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class, with spacious cabins and specially-designed interiors.
From ornate temples to tropical gardens, the sights and sounds of Penang reflect the city’s rich cultural heritage.
Holidaymakers and business travellers alike will be enchanted by the country’s magnificent scenery.
Penang, known as the gourmet capital of Malaysia, offers a host of culinary delights to please the palate. It is also the most frequented destination for retirees in Malaysia.