Doha - Qatar Airways announced plans to launch scheduled flights to Chengdu - its sixth gateway in the People's Republic of China, beginning March 19 next year.The Doha-based airline will operate three-flights-a-week to the capital of Sichuan Province in Southwest China taking its total weekly frequency across the country to 41 non-stop services spread across six cities.Qatar Airways has built up a solid operation in China over the years, currently operating 38 flights each week from its Doha hub to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing and Hong Kong.Today's news is Qatar Airways' sixth route announcement so far for 2013. Flights to Gassim in Saudi Arabia, Najaf in Iraq, Oman's tourist spot of Salalah, Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh and Chicago - the carrier's fourth US gateway - are being launched between January and May with further start-ups planned during the year.With a catchment population of 28 million people, Chengdu is one of the most important economic, transportation and communication hubs in western China and deemed among the top 10 cities for investment out of 280 across the country.Chengdu is the country's western centre of logistics, commerce, finance, science and technology, as well as a hub for transportation, communication, manufacturing and agriculture.The city has a strong industrial base, including heavy manufacturing, aluminum smelting and chemicals. Textiles are an important industry with cotton, wool milling and traditional manufacturing of silk and satin among the key business sectors.Sichuan Province is also home to one of the rarest animals - the giant panda. In order to protect wild giant pandas, nature reserves have been established in and around Chengdu, including the Sichuan Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve, the largest of its kind in the world.Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: "Chengdu is another key city in a vibrant economy looking for more air capacity and we are delighted to announce our operations there from March next year."We are confident of buoyant business on the route, appealing to vital traffic flows linking South America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East to an important gateway in China - in fact our sixth gateway of Chengdu."China is a market that is growing in stature and Qatar Airways will continue to tap into opportunities to expand our presence and provide more choice for our passengers travelling on business or leisure to or from China.""We look forward to welcoming our sixth new route of 2013 into the Qatar Airways' family with many more to be announced during the course of the next few weeks and months," he added.Qatar Airways will operate an Airbus A330 in a two-class configuration of 24 seats in Business and 236 in Economy on the Doha - Chengdu route. The aircraft features seatback TV screens providing all passengers in both cabins with the next generation interactive onboard entertainment system - a choice of more than 800 audio and video on demand options.