Qatar Airways’ inaugural flight on Thursday landed at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwe, Rivers, amidst excitement from aviation stakeholders.
The aircraft, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, landed at the airport at 11.15 a.m. and was welcomed with a ceremonial water shower by officials of the Aerodrome and Fire Rescue Service of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers commended the management of Qatar Airways for the good initiative towards bringing the airlines to the economic hub of Nigeria.
Wike, who was represented by his Deputy, Dr Ipalino Harry-Banigo, said the airlines would further boost the economic activities of Rivers State and Nigeria at large.
He said it will also bring more foreign investments into the country, adding that the State had developed ease of doing business and sustainable policies that would enhance business operations.
“Today, l officially received the flagged off of Qatar Airways from Port Harcourt in Rivers State.
“I commend the airport authorities and Qatar Airways management for choosing Port Harcourt as part of their commercial operations.
“This will aid the development of the state and we will also support Qatar operations,” he said.
Alhaji Yakubu Ahmed, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Qatar, said the airline made a wise decision by accepting his request to expand its operations to major commercial cities in Nigeria.
Ahmed said that Port Harcourt was among the economic hub and oil-producing cities in the country.
He said: “As Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the State of Qatar, it is part of my cardinal responsibilities to promote political, economic, and socio-cultural partnerships that will lead to the realisation of mutual benefits.
“I have no doubt; the milestone we are celebrating today will bring the people of Nigeria and Qatar closer.
“This will therefore give them the opportunity to interact and explore areas of common interests. With such interactions, strong bonds are bound to flourish.”
The Ambassador also said since the beginning of his diplomatic assignment in Doha, he had received several inquiries from both Nigeria and Qatar about various fields of human endeavours.
He added that such curiosity would certainly lead to only one thing – the establishment of sustainable win-win cooperation.
In his speech, Hendrik Du Preez, Qatar Airways Vice-President, said the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, today, marked the start of three new weekly services to Nigeria.
Preez said that the airline was one of the modern aircraft in the Qatar Airways fleet, adding that it offers 22 seats in business class and 232 in the economy.
“The new routes will connect Port Harcourt, via the world’s best airport – Hamid International Airport to more than 140 destinations across Qatar Airways network.
“Port Harcourt is an important economic hub for Nigeria, and we hope these new flights, linking it to the world’s financial and petrochemical capital.
“We will contribute to its ongoing success and pave the way for future growth. We anticipated good reciprocal demand between Port Harcourt and destinations in the USA and UK,’’ he added.
Preez said: “With the launch of our new service to Port Harcourt, Qatar Airways’ presence in Nigeria now covers four key markets and is a real affirmation of our commitment to the country.’’
He said that in Nigeria, the airline offers double-daily flights to Lagos and was steadfast in its commitment to Africa throughout the pandemic.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Qatar Airways flight to Port Harcourt was welcomed by the state deputy governor; King Dandeson Douglas Jaja, Chairman, Rivers Council of Traditional Rulers and Amayanabo of Opobo; officials of the Rivers Government; Qatar Airways, among others. nan.