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Monday, October 25, 2021

Global aviation industry descends on Doha

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IATA

Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport may have been heavily scrutinized when it became fully operational last Tuesday, but it wasn’t until this week that some of the world’s most discerning air travelers passed through its gate.

On Monday, more than 1,000 airline executives alongside dozens of business and aviation journalists descended on Doha for the annual gathering of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) at the Ritz-Carlton Doha hotel.

This is the first time the organization has met in the Gulf for the three-day event – which has put Qatar’s rapidly growing aviation industry and the recently opened airport in the global spotlight.

IATA’s chief executive, Tony Tyler, had already paid tribute to the new airport in a pre-meeting press conference, calling it a “very impressive facility” that would turn Qatar into a “truly competitive global hub.”

Even Emirates president Tim Clark praised HIA in an interview with Al Jazeera:

“I didn’t expect any less … It’s probably striking terror into the community of airlines that regard the Gulf carriers as an issue. It’s a great airport.”

Eyes on Al Baker

At the center of the action was Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, who as host chaired the annual general meeting.

Sporting an arm sling following a car accident late last week, Al Baker’s focus was on greeting his guests alongside his official duties moderating the conference’s meetings. He did, however, repeat his call for India to loosen restrictions on foreign carriers such as Qatar Airways serving that market in a media briefing:

Speaking to reporters as he headed back to the main ballroom, Al Baker said:

“Nobody should protect their national carrier. They should protect the interests of the country and the interests of the citizens of their country. And the interests of the citizen is to open up air services for more airlines.”

Al Baker’s remarks about prioritizing the needs of local residents comes amid discontent among some Qataris regarding their own national airline.

In 2012, a local campaign was launched among Qataris to boycott this country’s national carrier. At the time, organizers cited as grievances the targeting of nationals by charging higher ticket prices in a monopolized market; indiscretion in serving alcohol in‐flight; and underemployment of Qatari pilots and employees regardless of their qualifications.

Al Baker also made the impression on at least some guests with the opening night festivities, which included a concert and fireworks:

World Cup shadow

While IATA delegates were in town mainly to focus on aviation, many foreign journalists ended up reporting on new bribery allegations surrounding Qatar’s bid for the 2022 World Cup, which were reported yesterday by the Sunday Times.

The story continued to make headlines Monday on televisions set up for the conference:

Other broadcast reporters could also be heard discussing the corruption allegations during live reports, alongside other issues such as the country’s “oppressive” summer heat.

Similarly, Bloomberg TV devoted a portion of a segment on the conference to discuss the potential fallout for Qatar Airways if FIFA took away the World Cup.

However, the impact of that hypothetical scenario is minimal because Qatar Airways – like Emirates and Etihad – relies more on transiting passengers than those traveling to or from Doha.

Down to business

This year’s AGM was also a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first scheduled commercial flight, a 23-minute journey across Tampa Bay, Florida, on Jan. 1, 1914.

The big headline of the day was a projection that airlines around the world are projected to book annual profits of US$18 billion this year. IATA officials insisted that while the figure may sound impressive, it would still work out to a profit margin of 2.4 percent, or less than $6 a passenger.

Beyond the industry’s economic performance, delegates also discussed how to improve aircraft monitoring in the wake of the still-missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared nearly three months ago:

“A large commercial airliner going missing without a trace for so long in unprecedented in modern aviation. And it must not happen again,” Tyler said, adding draft recommendations on improving global tracking capabilities will be presented to the International Civil Aviation Organization in September.

Delegates also endorsed a resolution calling for governments and airlines to adopt new measures to deal with unruly passengers.

Finally, many Emirates passengers breathed a sigh of relief after Clark, the airline’s president, ruled out squeezing an extra seat into each economy row of the carrier’s A380s. Emirates executives had previously mulled the 11-abreast concept as a way of increasing the plane’s capacity by 35 to 40 passengers.

Tuesday’s agenda includes panel discussions on aircraft noise, the availability of skilled labor in the aviation industry, the sector’s reputation and government treatment of commercial aviation.

Thoughts?

9 COMMENTS

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johnny wang
johnny wang
7 years ago

Looks like this guy certainly knows where the golden goose is but the Indians don’t seem to be in a hurry to give him or the others what they have been looking for all along

Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago

I would be interested to hear more about the underemployment of Qatari pilots by the company. As far as I know (which is not a lot) if someone graduates from flight school here they are almost guaranteed to be taken by QR.

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
7 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

It concerns me that some Qataris want employment regardless of being under-qualified. That scares the heck out of me… Gives me just one more reason to fly Emirates.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago

what makes you say their under qualified? they passed their flight school? maybe qatari pilots demand higher pay and QA can find cheaper pilots from south america or elsewhere

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

The article: “underemployment of Qatari pilots and employees regardless of their qualifications.”

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
7 years ago

The article, saying “regardless of their qualifications.”, seems to be against the idea of hiring newly graduated Qataris….

Jimjam
Jimjam
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Depends on the standards of the flight school.

Rod
Rod
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

You should be careful with your comments, you seem to have no knowledge at all about pilots, aviation, etc. FYI, some of the most professional pilots I’ve seen in my life come from South America, and main reason many qataris do not take jobs as pilots in QA is same as for any other jobs in Doha: there is always a better paying option, in this case working as a military pilot in Qatar pays better

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

Will the new Taliban residents be giving a lecture on how to take down planes?

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