Targeting India's growing service-conscious overseas air travellers, Qatar Airways Thursday said it is starting a new service to connect seven Indian cities with New York and Washington, using Doha as a mid-point hub with a host of high-end facilities.
"We currently operate daily flights from six cities in India. Out of these six, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kochi will be connected to Washington via Doha from July 19," Naveen Chawla, regional manager of the airlines, told reporters in New Delhi.
"Mumbai and Chennai will be connected to New York via Doha beginning June 26 and from Doha, we will have a technical stop at Geneva which is the airline's second destination in Switzerland after Zurich," he said.
The airline currently has no plans to connect Thiruvananthapuram, their sixth destination in the country, with any of the US cities. But Ahmedabad and Nagpur will be added to the airline's list later this year, Chawla added.
The airline is yet to announce the fares to the US but said the premium class fares may start from Rs 180,000 ($4,400) and the economy class fares from Rs 45,000 ($1,100), exclusive of taxes.
Officials said the price and route taken by the airlines to fly to the US may sound costly and time consuming for an average Indian air traveller but the idea was to offer a premium service.
"Currently we are not looking at the price and time factor. Our unique selling proposition is our premium class terminal at the Doha airport. The Indian market is changing and customers are becoming brand conscious," Chawla said.
The airways has opened the world's only dedicated first and business class terminal at the Doha International Airport, built at a cost of $90 million, he said.
"We want to promote this terminal that was inaugurated a week before the start of the Asian Games in December. It is exclusively for first and business class fliers and features facilities like exclusive check-in, duty free shopping, spas, sauna and jacuzzi."
Chawla said the airline was currently looking at 80 percent passenger volume to the US route and will use the Airbus A340 and A330 aircraft for the service. The airline has a fleet of 57 Airbus aircraft.