Qatar Airways commences its daily Dublin-Doha B787 Dreamliner service on 12th June, so ITTN’s Neil Steedman interviewed Morena Bronzetti, Country Manager UK & Ireland. Further details of the service will be published tomorrow in an ITTN eNews – and Doha as a stopover destination is featured in the April issue of Irish Travel Trade News.
What drove Qatar’s decision to commence a daily Dublin-Qatar service, given the high level of Dublin-UAE seats currently offered by other airlines?
“Qatar Airways always strives to expand its offer and we feel lucky to be able to grow in such a dynamic market as Ireland, and to expand our presence here, which is a key destination in Europe. A strong business case and ongoing positive discussions with key local stakeholders and with Dublin Airport were the main drivers behind the decision to start our service linking the Irish capital to Doha.
“We expect a healthy mix of leisure and business travellers, inbound and outbound from Dublin. When analysing the leisure travellers flying from Dublin, we found a diverse group of passengers, ranging from families going on holidays, to backpackers on their way to a once in a lifetime adventure, but also a strong potential for business travellers to a variety of destinations on our extensive network.”
What percentage of bookings does Qatar expect to be ex-Dublin and what percentage of those will be with onward connections?
“We expect a very balanced contribution with significant demand coming from Ireland and with a large part of the passengers connecting to our wide network. At the same time we are foreseeing strong incoming traffic from tourists coming to visit Ireland, particularly from China and Australia.”
What new routes will be added to the network and which destinations does Qatar expect to be most popular in the Irish market?
“Qatar Airways currently flies to more than 150 destinations around the globe and we are regularly adding new routes.
“We have recently announced: San Francisco, USA; Cardiff, UK; Utapao, Thailand; Chittagong, Bangladesh; Mykonos, Greece; Málaga, Spain; Accra, Ghana; Lisbon, Portugal; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Prague, Czech Republic; Kiev, Ukraine; and Mombasa, Kenya. We will also be launching a route to Las Vegas, USA, in 2018.
“Thailand and Bali, as well as Australia and New Zealand, are proving to be very popular destinations from Ireland. We also anticipate that Manila, Cochin and Hong Kong will be some of our top destinations out of Dublin.
“Furthermore, Doha, where Qatar Airways’ hub is located, is a great holiday and business travel destination, which we believe will appeal to people flying from Dublin. Still undiscovered among Irish travellers, Doha has a lot to offer and it is a perfect stopover destination.
“Qatar ranks as one of the most exciting destinations in the world of travel today. Visitors can discover a fascinating taste of local culture and traditions in the bustling alleys of the Souq Waqif, have an action-packed break ’dune bashing’ across the desert in a 4×4, or simply enjoy a warm relaxing sunshine escape and indulge in delicious local cuisine.
“The streamlining of the visa application means that people wishing to visit Qatar can now apply for a visa online and receive it within 48 hours. We anticipate that this will further increase the number of people travelling to Doha to visit the city.”
Will the ex-Dublin Dreamliner have 22 1x2x1 Business Class seats and 232 3x3x3 Economy Class seats – and what are the chances of Qatar’s new QSuite appearing on the Dublin route?
“The Dreamliner from Dublin will indeed have 22 1x2x1 Business Class seats and 232 3x3x3 Economy Class seats. This aircraft is a real feat of aeronautical engineering, offering our passengers an unrivalled flying experience. From large, electronically dimmable windows to the world’s first dual-screen in-flight entertainment interface, to our new on-demand food service, the Dreamliner is an exemplary option for fliers, sure to leave them feeling suitably refreshed when arriving at their destination.
“Some of the other exciting features include:
- Lower altitude-equivalent pressure
- Spacious design
- Unobstructed views
- Larger overheard bins
- Environmentally cleaner and quieter technology
“We regularly reconfigure our on-board product to ensure customers have the best experience possible when flying with Qatar Airways and our aircraft will be undergoing redesign to include the newly unveiled QSuite in the next year.
“QSuite is the ‘First in Business’ and is set to change the way people think of Business Class, with a truly unique cabin. QSuites are private suites in Business Class that allow each passenger to customise it to meet their needs.
“Some of the features include:
- Double beds
- Privacy panels to create individual suites
- Suites can be configured so four people can sit together and enjoy their flight in their own cabin
Will Business Class passengers be offered free chauffeur pick-up and return in Dublin and what lounge facilities will be available in Dublin and Doha?
“We do not currently offer a free chauffeur pick-up and return service for Business Class travellers. However, we offer a host of other amenities that differentiate us from our competitors, including our customer service, premium catering, luxurious lounges and onboard wi-fi, to name a few.
“Business Class travellers flying from Dublin and from Doha will be able to benefit from our lounge facilities in both airports. Passengers flying from Doha in Business Class will be invited to enjoy the Al Mourjan Business Lounge before their flight, where they will be treated to unparalleled hospitality.
“The lounge combines state-of-the-art design, first-class dining, an expansive layout and award-winning hospitality to offer surroundings comparable to any 5-star hotel. The space is heavily influenced by Qatar’s rich Arabian heritage and is adorned with exclusive marbles, designer furniture and intricate embellishments – all spread over 10,000 square metres.”
What is Qatar’s USP?
“Qatar Airways is a multi-award winning airline, for both Business Class and Economy Class cabins. Our USP is the unparalleled service we offer both on the ground and in the air for our passengers.
“To vouch for us, we simply need to refer to some of our most recent awards that Qatar Airways has received. These include Airline of the Year at the 2017 Air Transport Awards, recognising the airline for innovation, service, hospitality and leading product design. Our Business Class was also recognised by Skytrax as the Best in The World. Furthermore, we place importance on all aspects of our passengers’ journey, which was further highlighted with our new Economy Class amenity kits winning multiple awards.
“The recent announcement of the QSuite goes to the heart of how we position ourselves: we want to provide the most cutting-edge products available to our passengers and that is one of our core USPs. We want to provide different and innovative products for our customers.”
How will Qatar Airways promote Qatar as a destination or stopover to the Irish public and travel trade?
“We have already launched a comprehensive advertising campaign targeting the Irish public as well as the travel trade. As we move closer to the launch date we will be intensifying our activities to include trade events, social media activities, and a lot more.”
What offices and sales representatives will Qatar have in Ireland?
“It is important to have a dedicated local team that can give the full focus and attention to the Irish trade and public. We are very happy with the selection we have made and are impressed with the level of professionalism and expertise from the candidates.
“We will have a full commercial team covering all areas of the business, as well as an operational team at Dublin Airport, to ensure that our customers receive our unparalleled service on the ground, as well as in-flight.”
What is your overall message to the Irish travel trade?
“We are extremely excited to be starting this new route out of Dublin and are very confident that we will receive a warm welcome from both the Irish public and the trade.
“The support from the Irish trade will be absolutely key to our success so we are very much looking forward to building a strong relationship with our partners.”