Monday AM March 30th, 2009
by: Ed Mayberry, March 29, 2009 11:03:00 pm
The two world energy capitals are being linked with a daily non-stop flight that will cut travel times for Houston companies doing business in the Middle East. Tony Hughes with Qatar Airways says comfort is especially important on 17-hour flights like this.
"So we have a very special aircraft on this route. It's a Boeing 777 long-range. It's specially built for long journeys. Qatar Airways is one of the very few airlines that officially ranks five-star. We obviously have two flight crews on board, and they literally do have an area up in the roof of the plane where they can actually get some sleep."
Qatar Airways and other Middle East carriers have been expanding, even as the economy has taken its toll on air travel. But passenger traffic to and from the Middle East has grown by 75 per cent since 2000, fueled by the region's building boom.
"Because we fly to sort of every region of the world, you often get ups and downs in business cycles. And our view is that people will still need to travel. Business will still go on. And we certainly have hubbed in an area that is still growing."
As for the correct pronunciation of the airline...
"I think I pronounce it from and English-English point of view. I think there are various versions of it. I think I say Qatar (kuh-TAR). And more in the States, Qatar (KUH-ter) is more common pronunciation."
The plane returns to the United Arab Emirates at 8:30 this evening.
Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.