Dubai, UAE – The future of aviation in the Middle East was the subject of the keynote address delivered by Qatar Airways on the opening day of the inaugural Dubai Business Travel Show today.
General Manager Commercial Ali Al Rais highlighted the Middle East’s strategic position as a key global centre for doing business in today’s increasingly competitive aviation industry. He spoke of how the region was developing a hub for non-stop flights to virtually any point around the world. Additionally, the modern airport and economic infrastructure, together with ambitious growth plans of nations across the Gulf made it a highly attractive centre for conducting world business.
The two-day show is focusing on key issues affecting the region’s business travel industry, with educational seminars touching on different aspects of the corporate travel sector. Business travel suppliers and corporate travel agents from across the Middle East and around the world, flocked to the event being held at the Madinat Jumeirah.
During his presentation, Al Rais spoke of how business travellers were becoming increasingly demanding, stressing the onus was on airlines to be innovative and creative in the product and service offerings they make available to their passengers. He said that airlines needed to push the boundaries in order to remain competitive and retain the business of the vitally important corporate travel sector.
Al Rais said that ‘people-focused’ products and services were becoming a vitally important component of frequent flyers’ travel lifestyle needs. These included greater use of mobile phones for more personalised travel itineraries and individual GPS systems to assist them in navigating monolithic airports around the world.
Average global passenger growth rates affect us all, he said. From 2007 to 2011, passenger figures are expected to increase 6.8% in the Middle East. Furthermore, population figures in the Middle East are expected to increase by more than 50% to 670 million people by 2050. Overall the world’s population will rise to 8.5 billion people by 2050, which Al Rais said provided plenty of opportunities for airlines in the Middle East to capitalise on transporting passengers to and from all parts of the globe.
Al Rais noted that by 2010 the number of business and leisure passengers worldwide will rise significantly to 2.3 billion people – up from 1.6 billion today.
He explained that, like in many parts of the world, Middle East airlines faced a number of challenges which needed to be overcome to remain competitive. These included increased fuel costs, highly regulated landscapes, security and changing consumer travel behaviour. Due to greater aircraft movements in the skies today, business travellers are experiencing more delays and more airport congestion. It is well documented that the Middle East carriers, in particular those based in the Gulf, are investing heavily in infrastructure to meet the challenging times ahead.
Al Rais went on to explain that in order to meet the threats and challenges, carriers in the Middle East must continue to be product focused to woo the business traveller. He said future travellers will be more sophisticated, more knowledgeable and more demanding as they become more affluent and more educated about the greater choices in the market.
Qatar Airways, a Gold Sponsor at the Dubai Business Travel Show, is using the event to promote its award-winning Five Star products and services, including a display of its First Class flat bed seat used on long-haul flights. The airline was recently voted as having the Best First Class in the world by highly-reputed independent aviation industry audit Skytrax.
The airline’s cabin crew, voted Best in the Middle East for the fifth year running in 2007 by Skytrax, were on hand to greet visitors on the exhibition stand and provide hospitality and service which the airline is renowned for.
The carrier is also promoting its newest flights launched this year, including New York and Washington DC as part of an aggressive expansion programme in 2007 which sees 11 new routes launched by the end of the year. Qatar Airways currently operates 79 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Far East, Indian Subcontinent and North America with a modern fleet of 58 all-Airbus aircraft.
As one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, the highlight of Qatar Airways’ expansion in 2007 has been the launch of flights to the United States and opening up three new routes across India – Chennai, Nagpur and, from December 12, Ahmedabad.
With a growing international network, more travellers have an opportunity to use Qatar Airways’ Premium Terminal at Doha International Airport which features facilities including a spa, jacuzzi, exclusive duty free shopping, business centre and fine dining. Built in just nine months, the US$90 million terminal is the world’s first commercial passenger building dedicated to First and Business Class passengers and offers departing and transit passengers an excellent opportunity to relax and unwind prior to their flight.
The Dubai event is the latest in a series of Business Travel shows organised worldwide with the UK being the launch-pad of the event more than 10 years ago. The shows have gained international prominence as they provide a forum for industry players to network and conduct business.
Doha-based Qatar Airways will operate a fleet of 110 aircraft by 2013 – almost double the existing size. Qatar Airways has ordered 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s, with deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is a launch customer of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five aircraft on order and scheduled for delivery from 2010. Qatar Airways moves to the New Doha International Airport in 2010, when the first phase of the new facility opens. For more information, visit www.ndiaproject.com
Qatar Airways is one of only six airlines in the world with a Five Star ranking for service and excellence awarded by Skytrax, the independent aviation industry monitoring agency. Skytrax also named Qatar Airways’ cabin crew as Best in the Middle East for the fifth year running in 2007 following a survey of more than 15 million passengers worldwide. For more information, log onto www.qatarairways.com
Qatar Airways Corporate Communications
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