Paris, FRANCE – Qatar Airways, Official Airline of the Tour de France, proudly showcased its world class hospitality to the sporting elite on the final day of the world famous cycle race.
Many of the world’s leading cyclists were onboard a Qatar Airways special charter flight from Grenoble in south east France to Paris before they headed for the last stage of the prestigious race to the Champs Elysees in the centre of the French capital.
Onboard the Airbus A330 aircraft yesterday were all competing cyclists, team managers, support staff and TV and newspaper journalists from around the world.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker hosted the guests on the flight, including Belgian cycling legend Eddy Merckx and Frenchman Bernard Hinault, who each won the Tour de France five times during illustrious careers.
After three weeks of gruelling racing covering almost 3,500km of different terrain across France, the 98th edition of the Tour de France, culminated with 34-year-old Cadel Evans, from Australia taking the overall winner’s yellow jersey and top prize on the Champs Elysees.
The Tour de France is the third most watched sporting event in the world after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Millions of spectators lined the race route over the past three weeks with hundreds of millions watching the event on television, broadcast in over 200 countries worldwide.
Qatar Airways’ sponsorship of the Tour de France is the latest sporting initiative by the award-winning carrier – recently named Airline of the Year 2011 – which has a long track record of hosting sports and cycling events such as the annual Tour of Qatar which takes place in the State of Qatar.
Al Baker said: “On behalf of Qatar Airways, it is with delight to be able to support this great sporting event, attracting the world’s leading cyclists for arguably the best cycling event in the world.
“Sport is integral to Qatar Airways’ sponsorship strategy and the Tour de France is an excellent way of reinforcing our passion for one of the world’s most popular sports.
“For the young men who competed in this year’s race, their commitment and dedication to what is an arduous sport, is highly commendable.”
Al Baker added that in supporting the race, the airline had won many admirers across France – being one of its key European markets – and around the world.
Qatar Airways last year celebrated its 10th anniversary of flying to France and today operates 15-flights-a-week between Doha and Paris, and thrice-weekly services linking Doha with Nice on the French Riviera.
The airline operates a modern fleet of 98 aircraft to over 100 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and The Americas.
With nine routes launched so far this year, the Doha-based airline has a further six to open by the end of 2011, reinforcing its position as one of the world’s fastest growing airlines.