Qatar Airways to boost presence in Korea

By Cho Ji-hyun, The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Korea–Qatar Airways, one of the youngest global airlines, is moving aggressively to nab a bigger share of the Korean airline market. “Traveling is the first place Koreans are willing to try a non-Korean product,” Jere Tala, Korea’s country manager at Qatar Airways, told The Korea Herald. “For us, the challenge is that our name is not well-known.” Established in 1994, the five-star carrier is less than 20 years old, however, it plans to expand its number of destinations to 120 by introducing over 200 more airplanes by 2013, according to Tala. The air carrier currently has 95 destinations. “As a matter of fact, we have opened 10 new destinations,” he said. “We will open our 100th destination at the airport in Syria in April of next year.”

Jere Tala said the airline now has connections to the Middle East, Africa and the U.S. and its newest additions are Brazil and Argentina. “South America, which is our newest destination, has been popular in the Korean market. We opened a new route to Sao Paulo and it has become a top 10 destination in Korea,” he said. He also said that the launch of daily direct flights for the Incheon-Doha route in March has exceeded expectations, resulting in a successful year for the Doha-based air carrier. Successful business dealings in the Middle East and Africa for Korean companies have added to the surge. Tala further stated that Middle East airlines are gaining market share in the global market, particularly because they can fly between different continents, such as Europe, Asia and Africa, in about the same flying time as some flights within the Middle East. But he stressed that Qatar Airways would not stand still with its efforts in the Korean market. “The year 2010 has been extremely good for us,” said Tala. “(But) we look for another very good year ahead.”