Qatar Airways Cargo has been recognized by STAT Trade Times as the “International Cargo Airline of the Year". What were the main contributing factors for this recognition?
GUILLAUME HALLEUX Qatar Airways Cargo has received many recognitions and the award for the International Cargo Airline of the Year is one of the latest. In 2017, we received at least three international recognitions and five to six regional recognitions. The recognition by STAT Trade Times and others are mostly due to Qatar Airways' customer-focused approach. In cargo, all airlines fly the same sort of aircraft (Boeing 747F, Boeing 777F, Airbus A330F) and we fly more or less to the same major cargo destinations. Quite often, cargo airlines even fly with the same schedule, meaning that any company's competitive advantage lies in how it deals with its customers. Our new slogan is “Moved by people," which captures our customer orientation extremely well. On top of that, we are part of the Qatar Airways Group, which has a great reputation worldwide; I have never seen an airline as “cargo-minded" as Qatar Airways.
Qatar Executive recently delivered its forth Gulfstream G650ER; what does this mean for the company's client base?
ETTORE RODARO The Gulfstream G650ER aircraft is top of the line in its category. It is a new product that sets itself apart from the community of business jets in terms of size, speed, altitude, and range. Its closest competitor flies about three hours less in terms of range. This allows us to connect our various markets and connect the world, which is essential for us. Especially after the blockade, we focus more on global markets. We have 12 business jets that we operate out of Doha because currently around 30% of our business comes out of Doha and the rest from Southeast Asia, Russia, Europe, Africa, and the US. We placed an order for 30 more aircraft with Gulfstream in 2015 and will receive nine more aircraft in the coming 16 months. As a result, our business jet fleet will grow from 12 to 21 aircraft. By 2022 we plan to have 25 more aircrafts, which will allow us to be even more present in world markets.
How has airfreight demand evolved since the start of the new regional trading scheme for Qatar?
GH I was in Melbourne when the illegal blockade was announced, and since Australia is one of the main providers of meat for Qatar, we coordinated with our partners there to increase imports from 40 tons per day to 120. As a result, we even had to transit some of the meat through Bali, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok. As we realized that the blockade had the potential to create a food shortage, Qatar Airways supported the country by cutting commercial flights and focusing on sending freighters for food supplies. Normally, we handle an average of 15 charters per month but after the blockade in June 2017, we handled the same number daily; this trend lasted for six weeks. For the cargo business, the blockade has caused no impact. On the contrary, we have replaced those destinations with emerging cargo ones, such as Kuwait, Oman, and Iran, among others.
What sets Qatar Executive apart from other regional operators?
ER First and foremost, the quality of the aircraft we use is significantly higher. Qatar Executive focuses a great deal on customer service, and the different perspectives of our client base helps us improve and ensure we are always performing to the highest standards. Our attention to detail also plays an important role in our activities. The personality of the cabin crews is extremely important, as is their ability to respond effectively to all types of customers. At the end of the day, our clients are VIPs with little time to waste, and this requires that we operate with excellent efficiency. This high level of service allows us to attract clients from our competitors. The range and quality of our aircraft is also a key factor, and at the moment, we have no competition in this regard. Moreover, we are regularly adding new aircraft, which allows us to be present in interesting and dynamic markets. Interestingly, we are able to utilize the experience that Qatar Airways has gained in the region, which allows us to target VIPs more efficiently. In the near future, Qatar Executive will be opening an office in Shanghai and Moscow; at the same time, we are planning to open a new operational license in Europe.