Qatar Airways, fresh from a series of top management appointments, says that it will finalise its new long-term strategy after a board meeting in January, with the aim to "triple the size of the airline" by the end of 1997.

The moves follows the appointment of Akbar Al Baker as chief executive. He replaces Sheikh Hamad, who was forced to step down because of his conflicting role as general sales agent for competitor Gulf Air.

Al Baker has since appointed a series of new senior managers. Michael Hewitt, formerly of Swire Cathay Pacific, becomes senior general manager sales and marketing. Hugh Parry, who set up British Mediterranean Airways, takes over finance, while former chief pilot for Gulf Air's Airbus A340s, Ghassan al Salem, heads flight operations/engineering.

Qatar Airways was formed in 1993 with backing from private Qatari investors. The fleet now consists of four Boeing 727-200s and two 747-100SRs, serving a network of 20 destinations extending beyond the Gulf to airports such as London Gatwick and Manila, in the Philippines.

Hewitt says that Qatar is in discussion with Boeing and Airbus over the acquisition of around three "200-seaters", thought to be Boeing 767s or Airbus A310s to replace the 747s. The future of the 727s is also under evaluation, with refurbishment a likely option.

"We are planning to begin daily non-stop services to London Heathrow from next May and hope to have some new aircraft, possibly on interim lease, in service by then," adds Hewitt.

Source: Flight International