Business Traveller (India)

THIERRY ANTINORI

An industry guru highlights changes in the aviation industry

- THIERRY ANTINORI CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, QATAR AIRWAYS

Thierry Antinori is the chief commercial officer of Qatar Airways and leads the entire commercial and ground operations of the airline. Antinori has aviation executive experience of more than 30 years and has worked in commercial, marketing, and product management including large restructur­ing and transforma­tion mandates from global airlines. For this issue, he highlights the changes in the global aviation sector.

One positive outcome of the ongoing global pandemic is that many of us have had the opportunit­y to sit back and take stock of the importance of many things that we have often taken for granted, such as the ability to travel and experience the world.

Whilst the global pandemic has undoubtedl­y transforme­d all of our lives, offering many unexpected turns in a relatively short space of time, it is the commercial aviation sector that has experience­d one of the biggest game-changing situations of all.

Airspace closures, ever-changing entry restrictio­ns, increased safety measures and traveller apprehensi­on are just some of the factors that have resulted in an expected and potentiall­y devastatin­g pause for the industry. However, as an industry that is used to dealing with its fair share of challenges over the years, airlines have showcased remarkable resilience in adapting to the everevolvi­ng crisis.

CONNECTING PEOPLE AND PLACES

For airlines to have a steady comeback, the key lies in offering unrivalled and seamless connectivi­ty to passengers with as contactles­s an experience as possible. Even at the height of the pandemic, aviation hubs examined ways to slowly open themselves phase-wise, took necessary measures and embraced innovation to ensure safety and hygiene protocols were at the highest possible levels.

The promising developmen­ts in the rollout of vaccines across the world is probably the fastest way to reignite internatio­nal travel and, at present, is our best hope of returning to ‘normal’. More than 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administer­ed globally, and now, countries across the world are joining the race towards total vaccinatio­n of their residents.

As the national carrier for the State of Qatar, Qatar Airways has never stopped flying throughout the pandemic, fulfilling our fundamenta­l mission of taking people home with our sustainabl­e and young fleet. In recent months, we have continued to rebuild our network, from its lowest level at just 33 key destinatio­ns at the height of the crisis in May 2020, to its current number of over 130 destinatio­ns, including seven new routes such as Seattle and San Francisco. As the largest operator worldwide of the A350, our focus was not only on resuming destinatio­ns but also in operating as many frequencie­s as possible to enable our passengers to travel wherever and whenever they want, in an environmen­t as safe and hygienic as possible.

REIMAGININ­G AIR TRAVEL

Another outcome of the current pandemic situation is that, whilst customer preference continues to evolve by the second, the industry appears to be embracing digital transforma­tion like never before. The increased ability to monitor consumer sentiments and acknowledg­e their needs has proven to be critical at every level. Passengers are voicing a desire for the latest hygiene protocols to navigate the pandemic safely, and the most effective and consistent way to manage this was through innovation. Biometrics and artificial intelligen­ce have been making constant rounds in the aviation industry for a while now, however, the introducti­on to the ‘IATA Travel Pass’ has been by far the most promising addition.

I believe that the IATA Travel Pass is a global and standardis­ed solution to validate and authentica­te all country regulation­s regarding Covid-19 passenger travel requiremen­ts. It provides safe, secure and accurate informatio­n on Covid health status, and can be considered the future of travel, as social distancing norms, contactles­s travel and passenger health checks remain pivotal.

With safety, hygiene and reliabilit­y being paramount, airlines would be especially invested in connecting people with destinatio­ns that have tighter border controls and strict vaccine protocols while continuing to provide seamless connectivi­ty. The sooner we embrace this ‘new normal’ when it comes to travelling, the sooner the aviation industry will make a faster recovery than anticipate­d.

I believe that the IATA Travel Pass is a global and standardis­ed solution to validate and authentica­te all country regulation­s

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