140 flights, recovery to 87.5% level before COVID-19
Strengthening investment in sustainability and quarantine systems such as fuel efficiency
Plan to strengthen cooperation with travel agencies, next year’s World Cup in Qatar is also an opportunity
Qatar Airways changed the Korean and Japanese markets by appointing Cheong Eu, Chan, general sales manager for North Asia in October. As an Asian aviation industry expert with 18 years of experience, he will be in charge of the entire North Asia along with the existing Greater China region (China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan). In a written interview with Chung Yoo Chan, general sales manager for North Asia, Qatar Airways heard about the present, the future of the aviation industry, and plans for the Korean market.
– We are overcoming COVID-19 relatively well.
Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines that did not suspend flights even at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, such as maintaining at least 30 international destinations. It was positive that the vision was to remain operational, rather than focus on reducing immediate financial losses. In particular, it established the standard of aviation hygiene through continuous operation and became a driving force to immediately strengthen flight capacity at a time when travel demand recovers. It also increased sustainability by investing in fuel-efficient aircraft. Although the A380 was shut down due to a sharp decrease in passengers, it invested in technologies that maximize the fuel efficiency of the aircraft, including the A350 and B787 Dreamliner. It has aircraft of varying sizes to deploy reasonably sized airliners on each route, and its destination network has almost recovered. Before the corona virus, Qatar Airways flew to more than 160 destinations around the world, and now it has reopened more than 140 destinations, and the number is expected to gradually increase according to each country’s entry measures. Steady operation is also directly related to the pilot’s ability to operate. Recently, Bloomberg reported that ‘The coronavirus has caused pilots to run short of flight time, which has led to an increase in flight errors’. Qatar Airways does not qualify. Although the frequency of operation of certain routes has decreased, the flight capability is still maintained at a high level because all pilots have continued to fly.
– Current status of Qatar Airways flights.
Qatar Airways has delivered more than 3 million passengers from around the world to their home countries since March 2020, and the Incheon-Doha route continues to operate once a day. In the case of the Incheon-Doha route, from March 2020 to September this year, about 108,000 passengers were used. Moreover, while many airlines have reduced their routes, Qatar Airways is increasing its destinations to meet travel and repatriation demand. New flights were launched on routes such as Cebu, Philippines, Brisbane, Australia, Toronto, Canada, and Seattle, USA. The pace of travel resumption is certainly faster in the US and Europe than in the Asia-Pacific region. Nevertheless, it has been confirmed that the borders of many Asia-Pacific countries have been opened since October, and countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia are preparing for overseas travel in earnest as vaccination rates are increasing. Reservations for Incheon-Doha routes are also increasing in Korea as the travel environment is improving, especially for those who have been vaccinated.
– What are the important competencies required for airlines in the future?
After COVID-19, ‘safety’, ‘sanitation’ and ‘flexible reservation policy’ will be the core values of all airlines. Although we are slowly getting out of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are still concerned about the safety of air travel. Therefore, giving passengers a sense of safety is an urgent priority. Qatar Airways is investing in safety-related technologies, based on standard hygiene protocols such as safety health kits and body temperature testing. It is the first airline to use the Honeywell UV cabin cleaning system to clean the cabin and disinfect the air surface, and to minimize contact, it also has a system that allows entertainment through the passenger’s own device. Through these efforts, we have created a safe environment where 99.98% of passengers can travel without worrying about Corona, and became the first airline to receive a 5-star Corona safety rating from Skytrax, a global aviation expert evaluation agency. In addition, through a flexible reservation policy, the trust between airlines and customers has been increased. For tickets issued before April 30, 2021 (valid until December 31 of this year), reservation convenience has been increased, such as providing unlimited schedule changes and free cancellation.
– What are your plans for the Korean market?
We confirmed that leisure and MICE demand in the Korean market is gradually recovering from 4Q. If the corona situation is well controlled by the first quarter of 2022, the demand for overseas travel by Koreans is expected to increase significantly. In line with these expectations, we plan to work closely with travel agencies, and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be a particularly good opportunity. In addition, as most Korean companies are currently seeking to resume overseas travel, they will work hard to improve mobility in order to secure business demand. Qatar Airways’ extensive global network and premium offerings, including Q Suite, will meet the needs of business travelers. Leisure travelers are no different. Based on Qatar Airways’ route network, excellent service and travel experience, and thorough safety protocols, we will give trust to the Korean market.
Reporter Lee Seong-gyun [email protected]
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