From Birmingham to Qatar

By | Category: Travel rumblings

qatarUsually, I leave announcements of new routes to the Snippets column on Saturday because, let’s face it, they are factual and for information only in most cases.

But the CEO of Qatar Airways , Akbar Al Baker, is worth following because he isn’t afraid to speak his mind, just like Michael O’Leary at Ryanair except that Akbar Al Baker has always championed customer service.

His announcement that Qatar Airways will link Birmingham to Qatar so that those living in the Midlands can now use the hub in Doha to fan out across Asia and the Pacific removes another layer of people who might be limited to Heathrow. The new connection will begin on 30th March and was announced a little while ago. But he did announce another fourteen new destinations for the airline.

Doha already has a capacity for 28 million passengers and the new development will allow for 50 million. Guess who is involved with the airport? Akbar Al Baker who just happens to be the CEO.

Many large airports look the same, all glass, travelators and exposed steel architecture.  The architect, Norman Foster, is turning the airport into what might be confused with a stately home country garden with trees, plants and wide open spaces. Some passengers might even forget that they are at an airport.

This is all part of Akbar Al Baker’s grand design which seems to make Qatar Airways, the airport and the way Qatar is perceived by travellers and tourists the best in every imaginable category.

He has just rejected the new Airbus that were due for delivery because the Pratt and Whitney engines don’t work well in the Qatari climate. Others might have accepted the planes and then concentrated on making them efficient.

He is also introducing a new business class seat which will be state-of-the art and different from any airline seat to date. Bravado or is there really something different? I can’t tell you because he refused to divulge any details other than to say that airlines had copied some of their developments so he was saying nothing until patents were filed. Anybody using the seat design would have to pay royalties.

Not a man to be messed with is Mr Al Baker as Pratt & Whitney, Airbus and various airports have found out.

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