Effective October 28, Etihad Airways is set to increase its flights from Abu Dhabi to Canada’s largest city, Toronto, from three to five weekly services.
THE EVOLVING AVIATION INDUSTRY IS KEEPING AIRLINES ON THIER TOES. THIERRY AUCOC, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS, EUROPE AND RUSSIA, EMIRATES, REVEALS HOW THE DUBAI-BASED AIRLINE IS STAYING AHEAD OF THE GAME.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: In recent years, what have been the main airline technology changes, and what are the notable upcoming challenges? How are you responding to them?
THIERRY AUCOC: The aviation industry is constantly evolving. Recently across the industry we have seen a focus on unbundling which we have adjusted to in order to offer our customers more choices. Passengers can now choose from a variety of seat options, can chose different ticket fare options depending on the best fit for their journey, and can pay to enter our airport lounges regardless of which cabin class they travel in. Emirates will always remain a full service airline with a rich product offering but we will continue to look at different ways to offer more value for money options for our customers.
We are also seeing demand for airlines to become more digitally present, to which we’ve responded with our redesigned mobile app and web experience which includes a more simplified booking and check in process as well as Live Chat options.
Competition with low cost long haul carriers is increasing as technology advances and allows more airlines to fly direct, but we find competition healthy and motivating. Our strategy of offering passengers one convenient transit makes long haul travel extremely accessible. It also allows for unique city pairs in main markets in the east like China and Australia to and from cities through Europe and the US via only one stop in Dubai. We have always been on the forefront of innovation and technology and we will continue to offer our passengers state of the art products and services as well as seamless global connectivity.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: How do you envision the airline industry's future, and how do you believe your company will contribute to it?
THIERRY AUCOC: The airline industry will continue to grow as demand for global travel increases, especially in regions like Africa, the Middle East and Asia, particularly China, which is fast becoming one of the largest air travel markets in the world. Emirates, with its Dubai hub centrally located, is well positioned to meet the needs of these travellers. The ability to conveniently connect travellers from east to west and vice versa also helps to stimulate trade and tourism with in the markets we operate to.
Emirates remains the world’s largest international airline, with a network that spans over 150 destinations worldwide, operating a wide body fleet of Boeing B777 and Airbus A380 aircraft. We believe that our young, modern fleet and our on board products and services offer customers who fly Emirates an unparalleled flight experience.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What new products, services, and/or facilities have you introduced recently? Please also include your future plans.
THIERRY AUCOC: Emirates has made a number of significant announcements over the past year. We introduced product enhancements on both our Boeing B777 and Airbus A380 aircrafts, we unveiled an enhanced Airbus A380 Onboard Lounge, and our Boeing B77-300ER First Class private suites saw a multi-million dollar game-changing upgrade.
Emirates also recently announced a new business class cabin configuration on the Boeing B777-200LR aircraft with wider seats in a 2-2-2 configuration for the very first time. Economy class seats in the B777-200LR have also been refreshed with full leather headrests with flexible side panels that can be adjusted for optimum support. Also in our economy class cabins, we introduced sustainable blankets made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles, making it the largest on board sustainable blanket programme in the airline industry.
We continue to find ways to meet customer demand with even more convenient flight options. In July 2017, we entered a partnership with flydubai, which offers passengers access to over 200 destinations through the combined network of the airlines. In the Americas we launched a direct year round service between Athens and New York and also recently announced a direct flight service from Dubai to Santiago, Chile. In addition, we have announced increased capacity to Istanbul, Lisbon and Auckland.
TRAVEL TRADE MENA: What are you current main markets?
THIERRY AUCOC: Our main markets include Europe, especially the UK, France and Germany, as well India, the US, China and the Australasian region. Other important markets for us are the fast developing markets like Africa and South Asia.