CHICAGO, April 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Qatar Airways' inaugural flight to the city of Chicago touched down at O'Hare International Airport today marking the airline's fourth gateway in the United States. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130410/NY92837 ) With the launch of thrice-weekly passenger services between The Windy City and Qatar Airways' hub in Doha, capital of the State of Qatar, Chicago becomes destination number 126 in the airline's impressive worldwide network. Qatar Airways now operates 24 passenger flights a week between the United States and Doha – daily from New York, Washington DC and Houston and the new thrice-weekly services from Chicago. Effective June 15, the Chicago – Doha route will increase to a daily service. Qatar Airways also operates twice-weekly dedicated cargo flights between the two cities, launched in August 2010. Flight QR991 arrived to a warm welcome at a grand airport ceremony attended by a number of dignitaries, including Qatar's Ambassador to the United States of America His Excellency Mr. Mohamad Bin Abdulla Al-Rumaihi, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker and airport officials. The maiden flight carried international media and airline management. The new route offers a connection between Chicago and a vast number of destinations across the Middle East, Africa, India and Asia Pacific via Doha. Al Baker and Chicago airport authorities delivered speeches at O'Hare International to mark the occasion, noting the economic impact of Qatar Airways' arrival in the city. "I would like to take this special opportunity to thank the people of Chicago and local airport authorities for their great support in helping Qatar Airways launch passenger flights to this vibrant city," said Al Baker. "After more than five successful years of operations in North America, we are pleased to introduce Chicago as our fourth and newest U.S. gateway and look forward to welcoming travellers from the Midwest and its catchment area to fly with us to many parts of the world and, similarly welcome visitors from around the world to this great city. " Chicago is a key route for business and leisure travellers alike, home to the world's second busiest international airport with 70 million passengers a year. "Qatar Airways was first introduced to the city in 2010 through its successful cargo operations, which helped set the stage for a longer term partnership with this thriving city.