Qatar Airways is increasingly protagonist, not only in the European skies but also in the marketing and positioning strategies of the carrier.
It has more routes to European capitals, more connections to emerging destinations in Asia, and an important investment in football sponsorships. If it is not a search for hegemony, however, it is certainly a bet on a leading role in the air transport of the Old Continent, also focusing on the sport most loved by Europeans.
During a press conference at ITB Berlin, the managing director of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, announced new expansion plans and 16 destinations that will enter the network from 2018 and 2019. After the entry and rebranding of Meridiana, which became Air Italy, the Gulf company relaunched its role of center of gravity between Europe and Asia.
For Europe, the new entries are: London Gatwick and Cardiff in the UK, Lisbon, Tallin, Valletta, Bodrum and Hatay in Turkey, Mykonos and Thessaloniki in Greece, and Malaga. To these are added the first absolute connections with Luxembourg, while looking to the east the airline will inaugurate flights to Cebu and Davao (Philippines), Langkawi in Malaysia, and Da Nang in Vietnam. In addition, Qatar Airways will double frequency flights to Warsaw, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Prague, and Kiev, while services to Madrid, Barcelona, and the Maldives will increase to three daily frequencies.
“Qatar Airways,” said Al Baker, “is extremely excited to announce further expansion with a significant number of new destinations to add to our extensive global network, which will be available to our passengers between 2018 and 2019. This it is a direct reflection of our commitment to connecting travelers from all corners of the world in a way that is convenient and valuable to them. We are committed to pursuing our ambitious growth strategy in order to be able to offer our passengers the widest possible choice and to take them wherever they want to travel the world.”
Virtual reality and soccer
The exhibition stand in Berlin, also designed according to the concept of augmented reality, gave visitors the chance – through a 360° digital screen that surrounded the entire stand – to experience the five-star travel experience offered by Qatar Airways, while in-flight entertainment playback allowed guests to sit virtually in one of the Business Class seats. The Middle Eastern carrier currently operates a modern fleet of over 200 aircraft through its hub, Hamad International Airport. Just last month, the airline welcomed the Airbus A350-1000, which is the global launch customer.
Al Baker also announced the new football sponsorships of the airline, from the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 to the one that will take place in 2022 just in Qatar. The new five-year partnership with the main German football team, FC Bayern Monaco, has been announced, further strengthening the role of Qatar as a global leader in the sports sector. Under the agreement, the airline will become a Platinum partner of the FC Bayern Munich club from July 1 until June 2023 and will see the sleeves of the German championship captains adorned with the airline’s logo.