During the Arabian Travel Market we met with Thierry Antinori – Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer at Emirates Airline who revealed their winning combination.
In a competitive industry, what differentiates Emirates Airline from other airlines so that seats are filled while maintaining low operating costs?
I think Emirates is the most customer-centric airline. Everything we do is to give the customer the best value for money in each class: First Class, Business Class and Economy. So we want to make the travel, the flight as part of all the travel experience.
That is why we are offering a very high standard of service. We pay very high attention to food and to fleet quality. We have only wide-body aircraft, we are operating only two types of aircrafts, Airbus 380 and Boeing 777, both iconic and well-received airplanes by the customer. Modern wide-body aircraft also mean more comfort for our passengers. We also offer more in-flight entertainment and channels than any other airline.
So if you pair that with employees that are very motivated, because they get good resources to do their job well; our cabin crew, our customer-facing staff, and our network 155 cities all around the world, we have a winning combination for the customer. So it is about DNA, customer-centricity and execution quality.
What are combined offers that are in progress with DTCM or with Hospitality actors, for example, Emaar Hospitality Group, to promote Dubai as a destination?
We are very lucky to be based in Dubai because it is a growing and vibrant city. Dubai moved historically from a trading hub and has become an aviation, hospitality, financial and lifestyle hub. There are 103, 000 hotel rooms today in Dubai. We have a growing inventory of venues and attractions for families like Dubai Parks & Resorts. We have a lot of capacity for MICE, business incentives, travel and events as well.
So, yes, a very strategic part of my organization is a department working with DTCM and with hospitality stakeholders in Dubai to combine packages and to give very tailor-made offers to our customers worldwide including those in Russia and China, according to the profiles of the families, the hobbies of the travelers, as a final destination in Dubai or as a stop-over in Dubai on the way to Africa, Middle East, Europe or the Indian Ocean.
After announcing Visa-On-Arrival for the Russian and the Chinese, first, how significant are these markets for you? And second, are you planning to add new routes to these countries?
China and Russia are for Dubai, not only for Emirates, strategic markets. For demographic reasons and for historical reasons, the government has changed the visa policy now. We see very good customer feedback and we see more Russian and Chinese passengers on Emirates airplanes. This just reflects how strategic these markets are. That is why we continue to grow there according to our traffic rights allotment in China. In addition, our interline partner, flydubai, in combination with Emirates, gives us an extensive network in Russia.
Could you tell us please, what are serious new developments in the pipeline that will maintain the airline ranking best?
At Emirates, we have a permanent flow of innovations when it comes to product. For instance, on the A380, we enhanced our iconic 380 Lounge, that is a Unique Selling Proposition for us, we have also been in the process of rolling out our Business Class seat on the Boeing 777-300ER that goes fully flat and offers one of the largest TV screens in the industry at , 23” with a very good pitch.
In Economy, there are constant enhancements of amenities for the kids, like the toys. We gave 3 million toys to kids last year on board. . We continually develop the content of our in flight entertainment. We have also some other developments regarding spa products and our lounges. We have also developed sustainable made blankets for our Economy Class passengers.
So we are permanently doing things and what is very important also for us is to continue to develop our brand, because if you have a good brand, you do not attract only the customers, but a lot of people want to work for the company. And the strength of Emirates is the employees. And that is why we are just very blessed again to win the Award of Best Airline worldwide with TripAdvisor, because it is feedback and validation from thousands of customers. And it has to do with quality of the staff, because you can have the best concept and the best fleet; however it is all about the way you deliver the service.
That is why it is about enhancing the product, but also continuing to attract, motivate and develop cabin crew from 150 countries.
A more personal question to conclude: How does it feel to be at the heart of such a worldwide airline based in an Arab country, as you are from a different European region, so what drives your passion every day?
You feel completely honored. You feel that you are living in the center of now - Dubai. Here you have Dubai DNA; you have many colleagues who come and move here with their families. Our strength is our diversity because we are diverse but working in unity. So you feel blessed, and if you are an airliner, you feel that you are working with an airline having the shareholder giving you the best resource to do your job well!