17-23 June 2016 #813

Service is paramount

Qatar Airways Vice President for South Asia Vincent Bernard Coste about the carrier’s achievements on the Nepal route and future plans

Nepali Times: Qatar Airways has been flying to Kathmandu for two decades, how has the ride been so far?

Vincent Bernard Coste: Qatar Airways is performing exceptionally well in Nepal with three flights a day to and from Kathmandu. The airline is well-positioned to serve Nepal with flights in the morning, evening and night from Kathmandu, with one-stop connections via Doha to more than 150 destinations across the world for business or leisure.

You are the number one carrier operating in Nepal in terms of passenger volume. As the market leader, what are your priorities?

Qatar Airways’ priority has always been to provide excellent standards of service to all our passengers. Testimony to this is the fact that we won Skytrax’s ‘Airline of the Year’ award this year, and also three times in total. Our advantage is that we offer a combination of value-for-money fares with award-winning service and superior, modern aircraft. We offer Nepali travellers the best possible product in the local market: renowned hospitality onboard, among the youngest fleets is the sky, award-winning cuisine, and one of the most spacious cabins in both Business and Economy classes.

What are the challenges you face on the Doha-Kathmandu route?

We did face a few in Nepal during the time of the earthquake and then the shortage in aviation fuel, which impacted our operations to some extent. Qatar Airways maintains a very robust relationship with the airport authorities and the Civil Aviation officials of Nepal, and due to their support Qatar Airways was the first commercial airline to touchdown at Tribhuvan International Airport following the first earthquake.

We were able to continue our relief efforts to Nepal for an extended period of time, providing dedicated freighter aircraft to transport much-needed relief aid to those in need, including medicine, food, water, generators and even volunteers.

There have been complaints about delayed baggage delivery at Kathmandu Airport, have you raised this with the local ground handlers?

Qatar Airways has been working closely with the airport authorities in Kathmandu to improve the baggage delivery process at the airport. Qatar Airways is very particular about delivering its five-star service excellence for our passengers both on board and on the ground.

What are you doing to cut transit times in Doha?

Doha is a leisure destination and commercial hub in the Middle East, and the number of leisure and business passengers to Doha is continuously growing, but it is still exceeded by the number of travellers transiting through Doha. During the 2015/16 financial year, the airline carried over 30 million passengers via Hamad International Airport, its hub there. As we have three flights operating at different times from Kathmandu, passengers have the flexibility to book flights with the least transit time.

And what future plans for the Kathmandu route?

The Kathmandu route has evolved significantly in the last decade, with the air traffic growing manifold. For travellers from Nepal, there is significant traffic in various categories, especially in the Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) traffic, followed by business and leisure travellers to Europe, Americas and the Middle East. In a short span of time, Qatar Airways has grown to over 150 destinations worldwide. The airline is expanding strategically and Nepal is a vital part of our growth and expansion plans in the subcontinent.

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