The launch of Qatar Airways’ daily direct flights to St Petersburg will further enhance Qatari–Russian relations as the airline sponsors the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia, it was announced.
Qatar is also partnering with Russia for the 2018 Year of Culture programme, delivered by Qatar Museums.
“Touching down at Pulkovo International Airport for the first time on Tuesday was a significant moment for Qatar Airways,” Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker said at a press conference in St Petersburg on Wednesday. “This inaugural flight represents so much more than just a new destination on our global network, it carries with it the weight of our hope and expectations for the future of our airline in Russia and the future of our countries’ ongoing friendship and partnership for generations to come,” he noted.
About the unjust blockade on Qatar, al-Baker said, “it puts a lot of pressure on both the citizens and the operations of a country when you blockade it – this is unprecedented since St Petersburg was put under siege during the Second World War.”
“This blockade is illegal because the airspace is above a certain flight level and airspace on international waters does not belong to any country, it belongs to the international community,” he stressed.
“This is a bullying tactic by larger countries on our country to intimidate our political thinking, our freedom, our sovereignty and our independence,” al-Baker said. “They will fail because in Qatar, the people are very proud, like people in St Petersburg during the Second World War: you were not intimidated, you persevered and you won.”
“It is the same thing that is happening to us. We will win this blockade and we will make sure that our independence is very strong and our sovereignty is respected,” he pointed out.
Pulkovo Airport CEO Vladimir Yakushev said Qatar Airways coming to St Petersburg is a new historic step in the development of the airport and the city’s tourism industry. He described it as “an event of key significance in the light of the approaching 2018 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Russia.”
“With the new daily flights to Doha, the Northern capital and the cultural pearl of Russia, has gained an excellent connection to one of the most modern and dynamic global cities and through it – to more than 150 destinations in Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Americas, on Qatar Airways’ worldwide network,” Yakushev said.
He expressed confidence that the new route will be much-in-demand among the residents of St Petersburg and Northwest Russia, as well as international travellers planning to visit Russia with leisure and business purposes alike. “Additionally, co-operation with Qatar Airways, as one the world’s largest carriers, whose fleet has the most modern aircraft of various types and configuration, will enable Pulkovo Airport to deepen its operational expertise as a leading hub in Russia and Northern Europe,” he added.
The launch of this daily direct service to Russia’s cultural capital will increase Qatar Airways’ number of flights a week into the country to 28.
Already operating to Moscow since 2003, Qatar’s flag carrier recently increased its service to the city from twice daily to three times daily to meet growing demand.
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