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Qatar Airways taps HK market with luxury service
www.chinaview.cn 2006-03-27 23:37:01

    HONG KONG, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Choosing dishes by a la carte plates, having a taste of caviar and served with individual tea sets...it's not a candle-light dinner in some fancy restaurant, but a cabin meal aboard Qatar Airway's flight to Hong Kong.

    Just starting flying between Doha and Hong Kong, Qatar Airways announced Monday here that they will focus on luxury services such as the above to stand firm on Hong Kong's aviation market full of competition.

    "In today's age of travel, customers are becoming more experienced and more demanding looking for more choice and the highest levels of service," Akbar Al Baker, the airline's chief executive officer, told a press conference on Monday.

    Besides the extravagant cabin meals, the Middle East airline's Airbus A330 aircraft also features other luxury treatment for first and business class passengers, ranging from chairs can lie 180-degrees flat as a bed, 78-inch seat pitch to 15-inch personal LCD TV screens.

    Even passengers in the economic class can enjoy a more comfortable long-haul flight with 34-inch seat pitch and the choice of hundreds of movies and music discs.

    The luxury treatment of course come with a "reasonable" price, said Al Baker without revealing the company's exact ticket price for traveling between Doha and Hong Kong, which had its virgin flight on Sunday.

    According to results of the on-line booking system, the air ticket price offered by Qatar Airways is between those of its Middle East competitors, namely Gulf Air and Emirates.

    Furthermore, Al Baker stressed that his company "are not cheap", "don't believe in dumping prices," and "are committed to maintaining and increasing...service level."

    He believed luxury treatment is the key to attract long-haul passengers to and from Hong Kong, despite of the fierce competition on the Asia Pacific market due to growing number of budget airlines that majoring in short-distance flight.

    As an international finance and business hub, Hong Kong was a destination not lack of passengers ready to pay hefty for their comfort aboard, said Al Baker.

    Even so, competition is fierce in Hong Kong, where any passenger has huge a lot of choices as how to fly to one single destination.

    Every day, more than 500 aircraft take off from or land in Hong Kong International Airport, which has more than 80 airlines flying to over 140 destinations worldwide.

    To Al Baker, the potential of a destination-Hong Kong flight came from the optimistic prospect of the Asia Pacific tourism.

    With the United States and European countries beefing up their anti-terrorism regulations, more and more affluent Middle East tourists will choose the Asia Pacific region as their vacation destination, said Al Baker, who's also chairman of Qatar Tourism Authority.

    "The potential here is so great that we decide to fly it seven days a week," he said.

    Restructured in 1997, Qatar Airways has grown by a fast pace of almost 40 percent annually. Over the past nine years, the airline's fleet has expanded from the original four aircraft to the current 45, while its flights reach out to 70 destinations. Enditem

Editor: Luan Shanglin
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