Eric Odone, VP, Europe, Qatar Airways discusses about the strategies to boost travel – Travel And Tour World

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Apratim Ghoshal, founder editor of Travel And Tour World had the opportunity to interact with Eric Odone, who is the Vice President-Europe at Qatar Airways at ITB Berlin 2024. He is a senior international aviation executive with ten years of experience in North and Latin America, Europe (Air France), Asia (Cathay Pacific), and the Middle East (Qatar Airways).

Travel And Tour World: Tell me a bit about your European connectivity? 

Eric Odone: We fly to over 70 destinations worldwide from Hamad International Airport in Doha, which is accessible from 28 countries and 39 gateways in Europe. 

Travel And Tour World: So, what are the primary nations from which your tourists arrive?

Eric Odone: We have a lot of sunny destinations like Seychelles and Zanzibar, big traffic to South Africa and Eastern Africa as well, Kenya and Tanzania, and we also do some specific marketing for a lot of traffic to Australia and New Zealand. As you are aware, there are 170 destinations, and there is a lot of traffic to South East Asia, so obviously it is like Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, and the Maldives. 

Travel And Tour World: You are aware that Germany is one of your biggest outbound markets, along with the UK. Can you talk us through that?

Eric Odone: Certainly! Yes, indeed, the top two largest markets for Qatar Airways in Europe include the UK and Germany. Germany holds a particularly significant place for us right now, especially as we’re gearing up to inaugurate services to Hamburg on the 1st of July. This launch will mark our daily flights to Hamburg, making it our fifth German city after Frankfurt, Munich, and Berlin. Additionally, we’re thrilled to announce the reopening of our Venice and Lisbon routes in June. Alongside these openings, we’re also looking at increasing our capacity with additional flights from Brussels. Another exciting development is the transformation of our seasonal flights from Malaga into a year-round service, starting at the end of March. And as for Berlin, we’ve recently added four new flights beginning the first of November, elevating our service from fourteen to eighteen weekly flights. All these expansions and enhancements are indeed very thrilling for us.

Travel And Tour World: May I discuss fleets? Specifically, which European fleets are you travelling with?

Eric Odone: Absolutely! Traditionally, our fleet consists mainly of Airbus A350s and Boeing 777s, which we consider our flagship products. In particular, they offer what I believe is the best business class experience in the world. At airports like Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle Airport, we deploy our A380s, which are especially popular among our customers for their exclusive bars. Additionally, we operate the Boeing 787-900, featuring the Qsuite — a truly innovative product that brings a lot of technological advancements to the table, including Bluetooth connectivity. The Qsuite allows passengers to travel comfortably with their companions, offering the option to use a partition for privacy.

When it comes to expanding our routes, we usually start with a single frequency, often using a Boeing 787 for significant routes like those in Germany. For smaller destinations, we begin with a narrower aircraft and then gradually transition to larger ones as we work to build and nurture traffic from these areas.

Travel And Tour World: Given that you mentioned an on-board bar, do you also intend to design the spa for the 380 already in operation?

Eric Odone: Although we do not have a spa on board, we have a fantastic relationship with Diptyque, which allows us to offer our passengers a luxury amenity kit that is only available on Qatar Airlines. 

Travel And Tour World: Do you intend to launch a new service class as a result?

Eric Odone: Yes, we’re always bustling with projects. Our company is in a constant state of growth, continuously evolving and exploring new opportunities as we expand our fleet. Although there aren’t any specific announcements to make at this moment, one thing that stands out about us is the consistent recognition we receive for our service quality and product offerings, in both business and economy classes. Our business class, whether it features the Qsuite or not, is particularly celebrated.

Our in-flight dining experience is something we take great pride in. The menu options we provide are carefully curated, ensuring that our gastronomy is top-notch. We offer an exquisite selection of wines, reflecting our commitment to providing an exceptional dining experience. Moreover, our high catering standards are a testament to our valued partnerships in this area.

The quality of our onboard products, both in business class and economy, is complemented by the experience at Hamad International Airport, renowned for its ease of connectivity. In 2022, we opened the second wing, named ORCHARD, which increased the airport’s capacity from 30 million to 50 million passengers. Within this new wing is the Garden, our latest business class lounge, equipped with a spa among other luxurious amenities, setting a new standard for exceptional lounge experiences. We’re continuously enhancing our offerings to ensure our passengers have the best possible experience.

Travel And Tour World: Do you have something like a premium class lounge for all the European countries you are flying out of?

Eric Odone: Our passengers enjoy lounge access at every departure point. Specifically, we have our own Qatar Airways lounges at Heathrow Airport and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. At other locations, we collaborate with partner lounges to ensure our passengers have a comfortable space to relax before their flights.

Regarding the check-in process for European passengers, yes, they can indeed take care of several formalities at that time. Their baggage is checked through to the final destination, and they receive their boarding passes for the entire journey, streamlining the travel experience and making it as smooth as possible.

Stock Video Credit: Qatar Airways

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