This Month we get to know better Qatar Airways
What was your motivation to join ICCA?
Qatar Airways’ membership of ICCA will benefit both Qatar, promoting the nation as an international MICE destination, and the airline as a global 5-star carrier connecting people across the world. In addition, our association will strengthen Qatar Airways’ market presence in a key strategic segment by effectively communicating the unique benefits for events to be held in Qatar and throughout our network of over 140 destinations.
Tell us your story. How did Qatar Airways get started?
Our story started with just four aircraft in 1997. From the first steps of our journey, as a small regional carrier serving a handful of routes across the Gulf Peninsular, our airline now operates more than 200 state-of-the-art aircraft servicing a network of over 140 air destinations worldwide through our home and hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA).
Under the guiding vision of our Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, since 1997, we aspire to achieve excellence in everything we do, ensuring our brand is synonymous with luxury service, comfort, and reliability.
Never afraid to overcome challenges and set trends for others to follow, we cemented our status as a truly global airline by becoming the first Gulf carrier to join the Oneworld alliance in October 2013, enabling our passengers to benefit from more than 1,000 airports in over 160 countries, with 14,250 daily departures.
Now, as we embark on our 25th anniversary, we look forward to creating the next chapter in our history and continue to cement our position of leadership within the global commercial aviation industry.
What sets Qatar Airways apart?
Qatar Airways was announced as the ‘Airline of the Year’ by the international air transport rating organization, Skytrax, in addition to securing five additional awards including ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Airline Seat’, ‘World’s Best Business Class Onboard Catering’ and ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’. The airline continues to stand alone at the top of the industry having won the main prize for an unprecedented sixth time (2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021). The airline’s hub, Hamad International Airport, was also recently recognized as the ‘Best Airport in the World 2021’, ranking at number one in the Skytrax World Airport Awards 2021.
In addition to this, Qatar Airways became the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by Skytrax. This follows the success of Hamad International Airport
(HIA) as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating.
What is your favorite success story from your organization?
One of the greatest success stories in Qatar Airways’ quarter of a century of operation, has been the group’s response to the most challenging and extraordinary period in the history of commercial aviation, which began with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
With the impact of the global crisis casting an ever-darkening shadow over the future of the international commercial aviation industry, we found ourselves facing a threat never before experienced in any of our lifetimes.
Whilst our competitors grounded their aircraft and closed their routes, we adapted our entire network to respond to ever-evolving travel restrictions and never stopped flying – fulfilling our mission of taking more than 3 million stranded passengers home on scheduled and charter flights worldwide in 2020-21 alone. We were able to do this thanks to our varied fleet of modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, and a strategic shift to serve passenger demand and increase the sustainability of our operations.
Qatar Airways Cargo also rose to the challenges posed by the pandemic, transporting over 500,000 tonnes of medical equipment, PPE, and aid around the world, utilising an efficient fleet of dedicated freighter and adapted passenger aircraft.
The airline also proudly supported a number of different industries and stranded vital workers to ensure that essential business travel could continue and keep the economy moving. The airline’s efforts provided a lifeline to those in certain industries such as seafarers and offshore workers, with the airline repatriating over 310,000 including close to 28,000 across almost 100 charters during 2020-21. We also opened a dedicated Mariner Lounge at Hamad International Airport (HIA) as a gesture of our appreciation to these essential workers that helped maintain the continuity of global supply chains throughout the pandemic.
What can we expect to see from Qatar Airways in the future?
With the reshaping of the airline industry as a result of the challenges it has faced since early 2020 , Qatar Airways’ commitment to its values and vision has proven to be more important than ever before.
We remain focused on continuing to thrive and seek to achieve excellence in everything we do, ensuring our brand continues to be synonymous with luxury service, comfort, and reliability. For QMICE we expect to increase our market presence, product awareness, and service recognition to drive business to Qatar as a destination and increase volume across the network.
Which trends do you see in the Association Meetings?
The learnings from the last couple of years have set trends that should lead the Associative Meetings in 2022 and in the years to come, falling under the areas of biosecurity measures, sustainability and event community content and engagement.
With the progress made in vaccinations, as well as the reopening of international borders and greater confidence in the safety of biosecurity measures in place at airports, we are starting to see a definite improvement in passenger volumes and an increase in airport revenues, not just at HIA but airports around the world.
Qatar Airways remains equally committed to protecting the environment as we are dedicated to our millions of loyal passengers. With one of the youngest, most technologically-advanced, and sustainable fleets available in the skies to date, our ambition is to demonstrate environmental leadership across our operations and establish a path for a better future.
Sustainability and the impact that meetings have on the environment will also play a key role, as large face-to-face assemblies return, as well as increased accountability for professional meeting organisers and clients on issues such as the reduction of carbon emissions, and moderate use of destination water and electricity resources.
Event community content and engagement for association meetings are also trending, as participants expect on-demand content, engaging the association throughout the year, and learning paths with up-to-date and solid industry insights.
What is an industry challenge your organization is facing currently?
As one of the global industries that was hardest hit by the worldwide pandemic, the implications for the aviation industry are far-reaching and will persist for years to come. Never before have we seen a complete and prolonged, near-complete shutdown of air traffic and associated industries and it will take some time to recover to normal, pre-COVID levels.
We still have a way to go if we are to continue to overcome the most extreme global market challenges ever witnessed within our sector.
The key to the long-standing recovery of the industry is to ensure that people begin to feel confident enough to fly, in addition to resuming shopping, eating, and relaxing prior to travel. This means ensuring adequate recovery plans are in place to guarantee that operations remain safe, efficient, and resilient.
The recent increase in passenger volumes is a definite sign that we are slowly starting to move in the right direction, we just need to keep momentum across the aviation and wider travel industry as we move through 2022.