Qatar Airways celebrated another milestone in its remarkable short history announcing its fleet size has grown to 80 aircraft - double the size of five years ago.

The airline has inducted its 15th Boeing 777 into the fleet and maintains a delivery schedule of more than one new aircraft a month, retaining its status as one of the world’s fastest growing airlines.

The newest Boeing 777-300 Extended Range aircraft will serve long haul routes from the airline’s operational hub of Doha, capital of the State of Qatar. The aircraft is part of a larger order for more than 220 different aircraft worth over US$40 billion placed in recent years.

With the fleet set to grow to 120 aircraft by 2013 and current global network of 86 destinations also expected to rise to 120 by 2013, Qatar Airways is continuing its expansion strategy with vigour. “Yet again, Qatar Airways is demonstrating its continued commitment to growth, a strategy set in 1997 when the airline was launched under the auspices of The Emir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani ,” said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker.

Addressing media in Hyderabad during India Aviation 2010, the country’s second International Exhibition and Conference on Civil Aviation, Al Baker said Qatar Airways was forging ahead with expansion at an unprecedented rate.

He was speaking as Qatar Airways debuted at this year’s Air Show with a dedicated chalet showcasing its award-winning Five Star hospitality and displaying two aircraft - a Boeing 777-200 Long Range version and a Bombardier Challenger 300, which is part of the airline’s new corporate jet subsidiary, Qatar Executive.

“Just five years ago, Qatar Airways operated 40 aircraft. Today our fleet has doubled in size to 80 aircraft. As our fleet increases, we are able to raise capacity on existing services and introduce new routes which is continuing as planned despite the industry facing challenges amid the current global economic climate,” said Al Baker.

“Qatar Airways set out a long-term vision to be a world leader with innovative inflight service using the most modern and efficient aircraft in the skies today. This is what gives us an edge over our competitors and, rest assured, we will maintain and step up our momentum to reach our ultimate goal of being the Best Airline in the World.”

Qatar Airways embarked on its aggressive 2010 expansion program with the launch of daily non-stop flights between Doha and Bengaluru (Bangalore), the State capital of Karnataka. It was the first of several planned new route launches this year.

Beginning March 30, scheduled flights are set to be introduced to the Danish capital of Copenhagen; April 5 sees the Turkish capital Ankara coming on line; April 26 is the launch date of daily flights to the Japanese capital, Tokyo; June 7 sees Barcelona added to the network.

Formerly known as Bangalore, flights to Bengaluru take Qatar Airways’ Indian capacity up to 71 services a week spread across 11 key points - Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Trivandrum, Cochin, Kozhikode, Goa and Amritsar.

With 32 Boeing 777s on order, including passenger and cargo aircraft, these will form the backbone of the airline’s long haul fleet. The aircraft operates on many long-haul routes and also serves selected destinations in India and across Asia.

Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 80 aircraft to 86 diverse business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, South Asia and North America. (Reuters)