Qatar Airways kicked off an important year ahead in Russia for both the airline and the State of Qatar with the touchdown of its first daily direct flight to St. Petersburg on 19 December. 2018 will be a milestone year for Russian-Qatari relations as Qatar Airways sponsors the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the State of Qatar partners with Russia for the 2018 Year of Culture programme, delivered by Qatar Museums.
At a press conference in St. Petersburg today, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, HE Akbar Al Baker, addressed Russian and international media at the Four Seasons Hotel, where he conveyed his vision for the airline in Russia and beyond.
As the national carrier of the State of Qatar, we are proud to fly the flag for our country wherever we go. Our presence in Russia will only be strengthened by the launch of this new route as well as by our upcoming sponsorship of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and by the 2018 Qatar-Russia Year of Culture of which we are a huge supporter.
HE Akbar Al Baker also used the press conference as platform to speak out about the illegal blockade against Qatar. He 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. This is a bullying tactic by larger countries on our country to intimidate our political thinking, our freedom, our sovereignty and our independence. 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. And 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.
The launch of this daily direct service to Russia’s cultural capital will increase the airline’s number of flights a week into the country to 28. Already operating to Moscow since 2003, Qatar Airways recently increased its service to the city from twice daily to three times daily to meet growing demand.
The recent relaxation in visa entry requirements for Russian nationals into Qatar has opened up this route to even more passengers wishing to experience Qatar Airways’ five-star service to more than 150 business and leisure destinations across the world.
St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city after Moscow with a population of more than five million as of 2017, is increasingly recognised for its contribution to the country’s growing economy as more businesses set up offices and headquarters here. The culturally diverse city is also famed for the treasures it houses in its numerous museums including the iconic Hermitage Museum, which attracts millions of visitors every year.
Qatar Airways will operate its daily St. Petersburg service with an Airbus A320 aircraft, which features 12 flatbed seats in Business Class and 120 seats in Economy Class. Passengers will be able to enjoy the airline’s superior entertainment system offering passengers various entertainment options.