Qatar Airways CEO Sets Standard
Attributable to His Excellency, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer
Miguel Forbes: I was able to connect with Qatar Airways Group CEO His Excellency Mr. Al Akbar Baker regarding environmental concerns, the new patented Q-Suite, and his vision for the business going forward. Given the recent concerns related to airline travel it is especially timely to have a perspective from the C-Suite on how this global player approaches the marketplace. This was our interview:
- How is Qatar Airways changing air travel? What impact does the airline wish to have on the legacy of air travel?
Mr. Akbar Al Baker: From its inception twenty years ago, Qatar Airways has taken a leading role in the airline industry. Setting the standard for quality international travel was the premise on which the airline was based, and it remains one of our principal goals two decades later.
As aviation continues to evolve, customer expectations have likewise changed. Throughout the 1990’s, we have witnessed the emergence of alliances and classic carriers such as TWA ceasing operation – it was ultimately the airline’s market – low capacity and high fares.
While much has evolved in the industry since then – consolidations, the rise of low-cost carriers, mergers, bankruptcies, double-decker aircraft, and more – Qatar Airways has stayed true to its original focus; connecting the world with a growing, reliable network and ensuring Economy Class, Business Class and First Class passengers experience the best of the world onboard and in the air. With two decades of numerous distinguished awards and accolades behind us, ranging from cabin service to food and beverage offerings to inflight entertainment to seat comfort - not to mention our award-winning hub at Hamad International Airport – we are pleased to see our manifested dreams recognized the passengers who choose Qatar Airways every day as their preferred airline, as well as our industry peers.
2. The airline is very mindful of climate change, boasting one of the youngest and most efficient fleets in the industry. What other environmentally mindful CSR initiatives does Qatar Airways engage in? And how does a business—especially one in the travel world—juxtapose CSR with generating a revenue and profit?
Mr. Akbar Al Baker: We are continually improving how we manage our impact on the environment and actively partake in aviation’s approach to tackling climate change. As one of the world’s leading airlines, we are committed to demonstrating environmental leadership and our ongoing investment in operating a fuel-efficient fleet underscores this pledge.
Beyond operating one of the youngest fleets in the sky, Qatar Airways is an avid supporter of the environmental pillar of Qatar’s Vision for 2030, and has instilled sustainability programs across the organization.
Recently, to mark Earth Hour on 25 March, Qatar Airways switched off the lights at its corporate headquarters between 8:30pm and 9:30pm in an effort to encourage communities and individuals to come together to highlight the importance of combatting climate change. Furthermore, the airline created an internal awareness campaign to encourage participation of its staff at home and boost awareness of the global initiative.
Qatar Airways sees no conflict between the drive for revenue and the ability to protect our environment. In fact, our commitment to innovations that support a smaller carbon footprint have direct benefits to our passengers in the form of new aircraft, lower fuel prices, and ultimately a more comfortable travel experience.
3. How do you envision Qatar Airways recently unveiled and patented Qsuite business class experience changing the nature of business travel?
Mr. Akbar Al Baker: Qatar Airways had already been recognized as the World’s Best Business Class by Skytrax (2016), but we are never content to rest on our laurels. Qatar Airways continuously reviews all aspects of our product and listens to the needs of our customers. Business Class travel has evolved into a singular activity – separating people from their traveling companions more and more. As such, we identified the need for a more immersive Business Class product.
The new, patented Qatar Airways Qsuite is revolutionary for its comfort, style and ability to make travel more seamless. With its multiple configurations, it allows passengers to share the journey – whether it’s a collaborative meetings in flight with colleagues or sharing a fine meal with your travel companions, the new features provides the ultimate customizable experience that suits each passengers’ unique needs.
When traveling internationally, every minute should be spent making the most of those precious hours; be it for leisure or business. With the new Qsuite, business travelers can make the flight a part of their agenda; a chance to run through that presentation once more or check the figures from the latest reports with their colleagues. Time inflight is no longer wasted and when work is done, the chance to experience the World’s Best Business Class remains; with Qatar Airways’ award-winning service, expansive in-flight entertainment selection and exquisite cuisine and beverage options.
4. Qatar Airways prides itself on connecting people and places in an ever more globalized world. Why is the concept of connecting people so important? What advantages does increased connectivity and access to travel bring to markets around the world?
Mr. Akbar Al Baker: With our breadth of connectivity, more than 150 destinations worldwide, virtually no destination is unreachable for our passengers. As more people are traveling more frequently and demand for access to new destinations is ever growing, our commitment to expanding our network and providing excellent service is paramount. This drives us to continue increasing our network to ensure we offer flights to the destinations our passengers desire.
Moreover, our worldwide expansion into new markets directly facilitates business, economic opportunities, and jobs, to name a few. These benefits to international travel are irrefutable: travel and tourism supports 10% of global GDP and contributes to 1 in 11 of the world’s jobs.
Travel also helps people from diverse cultural backgrounds to get to know each other, which educates and promotes a greater tolerance and mutual understanding. At Qatar Airways, we believe in Going Places Together; connecting travelers to reach our open, connected world. Qatar Airways is proud to make those connections happen and, even more importantly, make them enjoyable.
- What are Qatar Airways business plans and objectives for the next year?
Mr. Akbar Al Baker: It is our commitment to our core values that have made Qatar Airways successful and renowned in the industry. As such, our plans are to continue to dedicate ourselves to those core values; providing an ever-expanding network to underserved and desired destinations; delivering industry-leading service; offering the best inflight experience through top-notch cuisine, entertainment and comfort; and providing the latest technology and innovation to our passengers.