Dersenish Aresandiran, vice president – Middle East, South Asia Sub Continent and Caucasus at Qatar Airways, outlines the carrier’s growth prospects

Last year, Qatar Airways reported its highest-ever annual net profit. Has it kept up the momentum since then?

Our financial data for the fiscal year 2022-23 will be announced soon. There is certainly an expectation for growth in our revenue due to robust demand for travel, and with Qatar Airways seizing the opportunities through network expansion and routes resumption this year. We have been able to ride the wave and maintain the momentum through innovative approaches including airline partnerships with American Airlines, British Airways, Indigo, Malaysia Airlines, and closer home with Oman Air, among others, as part of our creative ‘’industry first approaches’’.

The Covid crisis has had unprecedented economic consequences in the aviation industry and is now a matter of the past. Global air seat capacity and passenger numbers globally are nearing pre-pandemic levels or exceeding in some markets. The lifting of travel restrictions in China will further boost passenger traffic and seat capacity in the coming days and months. According to IATA’s forecast, the airline industry will return to overall profitability in 2023. The sector will post a combined US$4.7 billion net profit. This gives us confidence that Qatar Airways will continue to rise forward strongly. We, unlike many others, have a state-of-the-art hub at Hamad International Airport providing the best airport hospitality experience and combining it with the services of what Skytrax has termed as the World’s Best Airline thereby giving our customers the best holiday experience.

What is QA’s strategy for fleet and destination network expansion?

We are committed to the global community that we serve. Our strategy is to identify and quantify the demand for air travel, calibrate our fleet and destination mix to meet the demand and bring people and businesses together.

We constantly look forward to working together with industry partners to deliver sustainable growth and a compelling future for the industry as we expand our fleet, network, partnerships, and international presence. Earlier this month at ITB Berlin, we announced seven new destinations planned for launch in 2023, including Chittagong, Juba, Kinshasa, Lyon, Medan, Toulouse, and Trabzon. Qatar Airways is also resuming flights to 11 destinations: Beijing, Birmingham, Buenos Aires, Casablanca, Davao, Marrakesh, Nice, Osaka, Phnom Penh, Ras Al Khaimah, and Tokyo Haneda. We have also increased the frequency of 35 destinations and scheduled many more for the year 2023. We remain agile and dynamic to ensure we are always there to seize every opportunity while ensuring we deliver the best to our customers.

Qatar Airways recently signed on as the global airline partner of F1. What sort of return on investment does the airline project itself as receiving over the five-year partnership?

Qatar Airways have been selective in picking the most thrilling sporting events and sponsoring a variety of new and prominent sporting initiatives. As Qatar Airways group chief executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, said when we announced the partnership with Formula 1: “Both Qatar Airways and Formula 1 are global brands that share a passion for innovation, precision and luxury. As a brand, we believe in the unique ability of sports to bring people together.” With 23 stops in the 2023 World Championship, F1 is a global sport requiring a Global Airline partner that offers extensive global connectivity. Hence, Qatar Airways demonstrates the perfect companion for one of the most desirable sports series in the world. With races in 23 cities, F1 gives Qatar Airways access to a large travel audience and F1 fans are our key strategic markets. It is also an opportunity for us to bring our industry partners and loyal customers to the races and experience world-class hospitality very similar to ours. Qatar Airways as a brand is committed to supporting global sports, helping fans travel to their favourite events wherever they may be.

The airline is a leading global football supporter, with partnerships including FIFA, Paris Saint-Germain, FC Bayern and Concacaf. Additionally, Qatar Airways is the Official Airline of Formula 1, the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Series, United Rugby Championship (URC), Global Kitesports Association and multiple other disciplines including equestrianism, padel, squash, tennis and cricket, as we recently welcomed the Indian cricket giants – Royal Challengers Bangalore – to our diverse sports sponsorship portfolio.

What are some of the plans that Qatar Airways have when it comes to interline and codeshare agreements?

We are looking at consolidating our cooperation with various strategic partners: our three US partners (American Airlines, Alaska Airline and JetBlue Airways) IAG (British Airways, Iberia Airlines, Vueling Airlines, Aer Lingus), LATAM, and all our partners in the oneworld alliance. We continue to expand our capacity in key partners’ hubs, file additional codeshare options, enhance loyalty benefits, and work on a more seamless experience across the passenger journey.

Which are some of the key global feeder markets that the airline intends to focus on and grow this year?

As a super connector, which Qatar Airways is often called, our major focus continues to be on long-haul travel between Europe and Asia including South West Pacific, Africa and North America. The Middle East as our extended home market has shown robust growth for air travel across customer segments like traders, leisure travellers and students. Travel demand is growing and people are more than willing to take up to the skies. China is opening up to air travel and is expected to have a huge pent-up demand. We are expanding our operations to Juba and Kinshasa in Africa and new markets in Saudi Arabia to cater to this demand.

To bring air travel closer to people, Qatar Airways has also announced operation or resumption of service to additional cities like Chittagong, Lyon, Toulouse, Trabzon, Birmingham, Buenos Aires, Casablanca, Marrakesh, Nice, Osaka, Phnom Penh, Ras Al Khaimah, and Tokyo Haneda. Qatar Airways is working closely with Qatar Tourism to bring leisure travellers from these diverse destinations to Doha.

After having hosted the mega football tournament last year, how is Qatar moving forward with bringing more tourists to Qatar?

The success of the tournament has significantly increased awareness of Qatar as a tourism and sports destination. Hayya Card validity has been extended until January 24, 2024, for fans who enjoyed Qatar’s hospitality and culture and want to return for more. They must have proof of a confirmed hotel reservation or lodging with family or friends issued through the Hayya portal, as well as health insurance valid for the duration of their stay in Qatar.

Doha has now been designated as the Arab Tourism Capital for 2023 cementing Qatar’s leading position in worldwide tourism. Through the early part of the year, Qatar Tourism launched its new “Feel More in Qatar” campaign, with the goal of emphasizing the country’s position as a premium destination and as the Middle East’s top choice for the well-travelled tourist. In line with that, a series of events have been planned for Eid to allow the visitors to experience the country’s rich emotional tapestry. They can feel the warm traditional Qatari hospitality, the serenity of the country’s natural wonders, and find an exciting line up of performances by renowned regional artists.

Qatar Airways and Discover Qatar offer amazing stopover packages starting at US$14 per person at four- and five-star hotels for travellers who want to sample what Qatar has to offer and experience two holiday destinations in one trip. Those travelling to Europe or the Far East who want to experience Eid in Qatar can do so by taking the stopover package via

What is the scale of your loyalty programme at the moment and what are some of the plans to grow it?

We adopted Avios as our loyalty currency to perfect our loyalty programme with meaningful rewards for our loyal members. It allows our members the opportunity to earn and spend rewards on the best experiences around the world. The change from Qmiles to Avios has given Privilege Club members more power to choose how to collect and spend their rewards freely. Members can collect and spend Avios across many categories, such as retail outlets, F&B restaurants and hotels. Members can also link their Qatar Airways Privilege Club account with their British Airways Executive Club account, enabling them to transfer their Avios across the two accounts free of cost. In addition, they can add their Avios balances to spend them on Qatar Duty Free, award flights, cabin upgrades, extra baggage and much more with Qatar Airways and other airlines. Qatar Airways Privilege Club has also signed a global strategic agreement with Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments, as part of a new ten-year exclusive partnership.