Saturday, December 16, 2006

Malaysia is a growing market for Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways building on its brand

QATAR Airways has embarked on a two-pronged growth strategy to expand its network and create brand awareness.

Area manager for Malaysia, Alan Chua, says the airline will be more visible here in terms of products marketing.

“Malaysia is a growing market for Qatar Airways and we will continue to promote our brand and products locally,” he tells BizWeek.

He says Qatar Airways will hold more marketing activities to increase its brand awareness.

Akbar says 2007 will be a milestone year for the airline.“We will roll out our marketing programme soon,” Chua says, adding that Qatar Airline will advertise via TV commercials, print advertisements and billboards to strengthen its position.

Chua says the airline, which recently underwent a rebranding exercise, will also be promoting its products through travel agencies.

Qatar Airways also announced an expansion of its international network with the addition of seven new routes next year. The West Asian carrier will be celebrating its 10th year of operation since its relaunch in 1997.

Chua: Qatar Airways is prepared for increased demand expected for Visit Malaysia Year 2007.“Back in 1994, Qatar Airways launched its operations with just a handful of regional routes and a handful of aircraft,” he notes.

“The airline was relaunched in 1997 and, almost 10 years on, Qatar Airways now flies an international network covering 70 destinations across Europe, West Asia, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and the Far East.”

Its fleet has grown sharply to more than 50 aircraft. “We have simply gone from strength to strength carrying more than 6 million passengers a year, with annual growth averaging 35%. We are well on target to more than double our fleet size to 110 aircraft by 2015,” Akbar says.

“Our fleet, our destinations and our global network have grown in unprecedented proportions, which is simply the envy of our peers in the aviation industry,” he adds.

According to Chua, Qatar Airways will add seven key cities to its route network over the next 12 months from Europe and Africa to Asia and, for the first time, North America.

He says Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, will join Qatar Airways' network from next month, followed by Lagos, Nigeria.

Qatar Airways will begin flying from Kuala Lumpur to the tropical island of Bali in March 2007, supporting its existing Indonesian operation where the airline already serves the capital city, Jakarta.

And Vietnam is also on the horizon when Ho Chi Minh City is set to become yet another destination in Qatar Airways’ Asian portfolio next year.

The airline also confirmed it would take delivery of the first of 20 Boeing 777s next year to operate long-haul routes from the carrier’s Doha hub.

On the local front, Chua says the airline has increased its seat capacity by 27% for its Kuala Lumpur-Doha route to cater to the rising demand for business and leisure travel between Malaysia and the West Asian countries.

“The number of Malaysian business travellers going to West Asia has been growing steadily over the past few years, buoyed by the stronger bilateral trade between Malaysia and West Asian countries,” he says, adding that the airline has about 80% load factor in its trunk route.

“Business traffic has grown between 30% and 40% in terms of our overall passengers growth, and it is a very healthy trend as it means higher yield or the airline,” Chua says.

He says that in Malaysia, the airline registered about 30% growth in terms of passengers take-out between April and November this year compared with the corresponding period last year.

According to Tourism Malaysia's statistics, more than 147,600 tourists from West Asia visited Malaysia in 2005, an increase of 17% over the previous year.

“With Visit Malaysia Year 2007 around the corner, we foresee an increase in tourist arrivals from West Asia.

“Qatar Airways, with our regular flights frequency, is in a strong position to meet the demands of travellers to Malaysia,” Chua says.

Currently, Qatar Airways flies seven times a week between Kuala Lumpur and Doha.

Source : STAR
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