By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
9 July 2013 | We have reported before airlines in Brazil have been developing innovative strategies as they compete to win over the new Brazilian middle class, many of whom are entirely new to air travel. For example, TAM and low-cost carrier GOL are targeting this segment with novel sales channels, such as mini travel stores at busy subway and bus stations and kiosks at discount stores.
On a related note, Philippine Airlines and its low-cost subsidiary AirPhil Express offer customers in the Philippines the option to book a domestic ticket online and then pay for their ticket using cash at over 750 7-Eleven retail outlets nationwide, which are open 24/7. Meanwhile, Jetstar Japan has just signed a distribution agreement to sell tickets through the ubiqitous Lawson convenience store franchise chain. The arrangement enables customers to book Jetstar Japan air tickets using the multi-media terminals (known as Lawson Loppi) and pay for them in cash at the chain’s 10,000 plus stores. The deal with Lawson will allow the low-cost carrier to become the first airline in Japan to sell fares at multi-media terminals that already sell concert, bus and train tickets.
On the other end of the spectrum, Qatar Airways – which was voted Airline of the Year in 2012 and is one of just a handful 5-star rated airlines in the world – has just opened a flagship high-street ticket office in one of the world’s most exclusive shopping destinations – iconic British department store, Harrods in Knightsbridge, London.
Located on the lower ground floor of the department store, next door to Harrods Bank, the Qatar Airways ticket office is a short walk for many citizens from the oil rich state who have moved to the UK with many living in Knightsbridge and Kensington. Or as The Telegraph states it: “Now, with their favourite airline taking space in the Harrods basement, Qataris will only need to leave their Ferraris and Lamborghinis for a short time to collect their tickets on the carrier.”
Futhermore, Mohammed Al-Fayed sold Harrods for GBP1.5 billion to investment company Qatar Holdings in May 2010 – forging a close link to the Arab state.
“London is one of our most important gateways,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. “We are opening our ticket office in central London at Harrods as it is a place that not only reflects the high level of service we offer, but is where our most discerning customers can be found. Harrods customers can now experience our unrivalled 5 star service in-store and onboard.”
Qatar Airways operates five daily flights between Doha and London Heathrow.
By Vivek Mayasandra, Take Flight Project
25 May 2012 | With the Gulf Region having firmly anchored itself as a global aviation crossroads, it comes with little surprise that Qatar Airways is on our list of airlines to watch in 2012. The national carrier of Qatar has experienced a rapid ascent to become one of the few ‘5-Star Airlines’ in the sky and was named “Airline of the Year 2011” by Skytrax – which cited its roomy Economy cabin and Business Class product – including the Premium Terminal at its Doha hub – as key drivers for the ranking.
Compared with Gulf-based competitors Emirates and Etihad, Qatar Airways takes a more low-key approach in designing its passenger experience. Says the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker in an emailed statement to airlinetrends.com, “We believe that our key innovation is not so much one particular product or service, but rather our commitment to blending the latest technologies, trends and styles with the best aspects of air travel as it used to be, including plenty of space, inspiring cuisine and a warm, personal service. We provide an experience, not sell a commodity.” Continues Al Baker, “Although our premium seats offer a high degree of comfort and privacy we do not see the need to feature gimmicks such as walls or doors in any of our designs.”
Qatar Airways’ fleet of widebody aircraft offer a Business Class product that features 180 degree flat bed seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, a seat pitch of 78 inches, 15 inch IFE screens (17”on its B777s) with over 1,000 entertainment options, and a-la-carte dining with all meals prepared at time of order. In Economy, the standard seat pitch is up to 34 inches (significantly more than on other airlines). Passengers also receive a complimentary toiletry pouch and the airline has teamed up with wellbeing guru Deepak Chopra to produce a ‘Tips to Fly Healthy’ guide that can be found in the seat-back pocket. All seats also offer in-seat power and a 10.6 inch IFE screen.
Qatar Airways expects delivery of its first Boeing 787 in Summer 2012 (it plans to have five 787s in service by the end of the year) and the airline will be the launch customer in the Middle East for the aircraft. Qatar will initially operate the 787 on intra-Gulf routes to provide flight crew with training hours before it will deploy the aircraft on the Doha–London Heathrow route in late August. Bloomberg reports that Qatar also plans to start flights to Atlanta, Chicago, Boston and Detroit within the next year as it begins receiving its 787s.
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By Vivek Mayasandra, Take Flight Project
11 December 2011 | With an enviable outlook ahead of them, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways are some of the world’s fastest-growing airlines. A recent report released by the Boston Consulting Group illustrates that the three carriers will collectively triple their capacity over the next 20 years. But while these so-called ‘Gulf Gullivers’ have a number of similarities – they have placed multi billion-dollar aircraft orders, large investments in their premium services, and expanded their airports in order to turn the Gulf region into the world’s 24/7 aviation hub – they have taken on different growth strategies.
We have highlighted before how Emirates, which will become the world’s largest operator of widebody aircraft by 2015, is combining its global Dubai hub with localized services on board. This time we are taking a look at Qatar Airways, who has been taken a slightly different expansion approach by seeking out markets that have yet been unexplored by fellow Gulf carriers.
Airline of the year
The national carrier of Qatar has experienced a rapid ascent to become one of the top airline brands in the sky. Earlier this year, 5-star rated Qatar Airways was named “Airline of the Year 2011” by Skytrax – which cited its roomy economy class cabin and the Business and First Class experience (including the Premium Terminal at its Doha hub) as key drivers for the ranking.
Qatar Airways currently operates a fleet of 102 aircraft to 109 destinations, and by 2013 plans to serve 120 destinations with a fleet of 120 aircraft. Receiving a new aircraft every 18 days, the airline is targetting an annual growth of 35 percent in the coming years, and has ordered more than 200 aircraft, including 10 a380s and 80 a350s, worth over USD 40 billion. Additionally, Qatar Airways is a key stakeholder in the construction of Doha’s brand new international airport, scheduled to open in 2012.
While Qatar Airways is likely to remain smaller in total size than its near neighbour Emirates for the foreseeable future, the Doha-based carrier seems keen to overtake its Dubai-based rival in the number of destinations served (109 versus 116 routes at the moment). Speaking at the recent Dubai Air Show, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said that the airline’s mission “…has been to operate to key business and leisure destinations around the world, but also to underserved markets where others dare not venture into. We take bold decisions to serve certain markets because we believe it makes strong business sense.”
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9 June 2010 | Dubai-based Emirates has signed a deal to buy 32 additional A380 aircraft in an order with a list price of USD11.5 billion. This brings the airline’s total A380 order to 90 aircrafts, nearly 40 percent of worldwide orders for the superjumbo. Emirates president Tim Clark said that all 90 A380s will be operating at the same time in the future, as “The first A380 aircraft we ordered will be retired from the fleet in 2020, and the last of this order will be delivered in 2017.”
The central location of the Gulf Region on the world map lets aircraft access almost every destination non-stop, as 85 percent of the world’s population is located within a 8,500 km range from the Gulf. Governments in the region have been developing their carriers over the past decades to help diversify their economies and reduce dependence on oil revenues. The so-called ‘Gulf Gullivers’ are increasingly redirecting passenger flows from Europe, Asia and the Americas through their hubs, making them serious competitors for established airlines.
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4 March 2010 | 2009 was the year of inflight connectivity in the USA with the rollout of Aircell’s Gogo inflight Wi-Fi on nearly 700 U.S domestic aircraft (roughly a quarter of the domestic fleet). Inflight Internet access is now being offered (or will soon be offered) by 10 North American airlines. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, a similar development is taking place. Airlines such as Emirates and Wataniya currently offer GSM-based connectivity on cellphones and pda’s, and several carriers in the region will follow during 2010, with onboard cellular as well as Wi-Fi access.
Introduced in March 2008, passengers on 70 Emirates aircraft (out of Emirates’ 145-strong fleet) can currently use their cellphones and pda’s to make voice calls and send sms-messages. Emirates says 200 flights a day throughout 55 countries are currently mobile-equipped and each month passengers send and receive over 140,000 sms texts. The airline is installing the Aeromobile system at 2 to 3 aircraft a month and by mid-2010 will also add GPRS technology to its cellular service, providing pda users who need a quick internet fix with a limited Internet connection. Aeromobile together with Panasonic will also equip Turkish Airlines with full inflight broadband when the first of the airline’s 12 new B777-300ERs and 10 A330-300s enters service in the fourth quarter of 2010.
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11 January 2010 | The rise and rise of Emirates (Dubai), Etihad (Abu Dhabi) and Qatar Airways has been well documented. These so-called ‘Gulf Gullivers’ have placed multi billion-dollar aircraft orders, expanding their airports and developing their tourism infrastructure, with the aim to turn the geographically ideally situated Gulf region into the world’s aviation hub. Some of the ingredients of their model: high frequencies to major urban destinations, target large metropolitan areas without direct connections (for example, Manchester, Birmingham in the UK, Düsseldorf, Hamburg in Germany) so passengers can bypass busy hubs in their region and transfer at the carrier’s 24/7 Gulf hubs, and large investments in their premium services.
The past year, major airlines in Europe, North-America, and Asia-Pacific have put their brakes on fleet expansion amid significant drops in passenger volumes and yields. Nevertheless, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have continued their aggressive fleet and network growth, introducing more than 30 new widebodies between them during 2009. Middle East airlines saw passenger grow 11.2 percent in 2009 according to IATA. By contrast, passenger demand dropped 5 percent in Europe and 5.6 percent in the Norh America, as well as in Asia Pacific. And plans remain bullish: With a new wave of aircraft coming, most notably Emirates and Qatar Airways are now turning their attention to other European metropolitan catchment areas and to Japan.
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