On March 28, 2007, the world's fastest growing airline Qatar Airways commenced service to the world's most popular tropical holiday destination, making Bali its 75th worldwide port-of-call. With an initial schedule of four flights per week operating to the Airline's hub in Doha, airline executives are hoping to match the seven daily flights now operated to Jakarta by introducing daily flights to Bali once new aircraft on order become available.
While the initial flight flown by Qatar operated on the previous Sunday (March 25th), the official welcoming ceremonies and reception were held three days later on March 28th to permit the Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Akbar Al Baker to be personally on hand to celebrate the momentous day in Bali tourism.
Reflecting the enthusiastic support of the Balinese people for the new service, a special welcoming ceremony was held shortly after 4 p.m. on Wednesday when QR624 landed on Runway 27 at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport. Leading representatives of the local and national government together with Bali tourism figures were in attendance at a mid afternoon reception held in a Balinese pavilion located just meters away from a special parking bay prepared to welcome the A300-600 aircraft.
As the aircraft rolled to a halt under a fire truck water salute, a gamelan orchestra performed as the red carpet was unfurled to the aircraft's steps and 20 colorful traditional Balinese warriors performed a baris dance on the adjoining tarmac. Escorted by a welcoming reception of regional representatives of the Airline and traditionally dressed attendants holding ceremonial umbrellas, Mr. Al Baker made his was to the reception area where he received a floral welcome.
In a brief ceremony at the airport, Al Baker joined Wardiyatmo, a Senior Advisor to the Minister of Culture and Tourism, in a poignant ceremony marking the day. Each man poured sands collected from their respective lands into a common vessel held by a Balinese youth as the events master of ceremonies underlined how the symbolic mixing of soils from Bali and Doha also spoke of a new found commitment to promote and publicize to the world the rich culture of Bali and the hospitality of the Balinese people to the world via the vast network of Qatar Airways.
Gala Dinner Reception
On Wednesday evening more than 300 invited guests were treated to a lavish welcoming reception hosted by the Airline at the Ritz Carlton Bali, Resort and Spa. In keeping with its reputation as a 5-star airline, the guests were treated to a pre-dinner cocktail reception with free flowing Dom Pérignon and live music. Later, doors opened to the Resort's Ballroom for an evening of outstanding food and drink and non-stop musical entertainment drawn from across the vast route network of Qatar Airways. This included a virtuoso performance on a classical Arabian lute or Ud by [Anello Capuano], exotic belly dancers, an appearance by the Qatar Airways Indian Cultural group and, to highlight the Airline's newest destination, a special appearance by Bali's own internationally acclaimed recording stars [Saharadja ]
Meeting Akbar Al Baker - CEO, Qatar Airways
In his address at the Gala Dinner on March 28th, Al Baker said: "We look forward to bringing passengers to this tropical paradise from throughout our international network, especially from Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Likewise, we anticipate many business travellers will be looking to take advantage of the new Doha to Bali connection."
Al Baker praised the island's tourism sector for its resilience having facing tremendous challenges over the past few years. He expressed delight that Qatar Airways was able to launch flights to the island which, he said, would undoubtedly help bring in tourists from around the world and give the island's tourism industry a huge boost.
In a Thursday press conference, the Chief Executive Officer briefed members of the local and international press about his carrier, providing interesting insights on Bali's newest air connection to the world, including:
• Qatar Airways was launched in 1994 with only one aircraft and today operates 57 aircraft.
• According to Al Baker, his airline is the world's fastest growing airline recording a 35% year-on-year growth rate over ten years; a phenomenal rate of growth it expects to maintain for at least the next 4 years.
• The Airline operates one of the world's youngest fleets with the average age of each plane at 3 years.
• By 2015 Qatar Airways plans to have a fleet of 110 aircraft, including both Airbus and Boeing wide-bodied equipment, in operation.
• Qatar Airways is one of the launch customers for the new Airbus 380 aircraft with its new airport in Doha, set to open in 2009, specially configured to handle the world's largest aircraft.
• Qatar Airways is the only airline the in world to have a separate dedicated terminal in its home port only for business and first class passengers. The premium terminal includes meeting rooms, spas, accommodation and five star dining options for passengers transiting or joining a flight in Doha.
• Qatar Airways has received a 5 star rating from Skytrax for the quality of its in-flight services and has been voted as having the best cabin crew in the Middle East every year from 2003-2006.
Committed to Indonesia
During his visit to Bali, Al Baker repeatedly declared his airline's desire to expand their services by adding more flights to Jakarta and Bali. Al Baker also said his Airline hoped to commence service to Surabaya, pending Indonesian government approval.
Shown on balidiscovery.com are selected images from the arrival of QR624 to Bali and the inaugural flight press conference.