Raising Expectations

Qatar Executive turns to Gulfstream with focus on expanding international reach
aviation, g500, g600, g650
Written By Adam Van Brimmer

Qatar Airways is renowned for “five-star” service.

The national airline of Qatar achieves such status through exceptional customer service, in-flight amenities, culinary delights, and aircraft which offer cutting-edge technology. Qatar Airways’ private charter service division, Qatar Executive, faces an even higher standard for excellence.

“An integral element of our product offering is the experience we provide—to deliver best in class and exceed expectations,” says the company’s visionary leader, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker. “The discerning crowd we cater to must simply have a top-caliber product with the latest in design and technology.”

Only one business aircraft manufacturer offers jets that meet the service promise Al Baker is committed to deliver on while also providing the most spacious interiors in large-cabin aircraft: Gulfstream. Qatar Executive is adding a mix of new Gulfstream G500s, G600s and G650s to its fleet as the operator expands its reach. The aircraft offer unmatched combinations of range and speed with superb fuel-efficiency for intercontinental missions, a vital mix for a company that has established a reputation for business aviation success in the six years since Qatar Executive’s founding.

“That we have become a market leader in the field of global luxury travel in such a short space of time demonstrates that we have the right strategic approach to both our service and product,” says David Edwards, Qatar Executive’s executive vice president.

Only one business aircraft manufacturer offers jets that meet the service promise Al Baker is committed to deliver on while also providing the most spacious interiors in large-cabin aircraft: Gulfstream.

Exponential Business Growth

The move to Gulfstream—after flying another brand of aircraft since Qatar Executive’s founding—is meant to help the company exceed customer expectations. And the 30 aircraft on order satisfy Al Baker’s growth projections for the next decade.

And grow businesses is what Al Baker does best.

Al Baker first demonstrated his business acumen two decades ago. He assumed command of Qatar Airways in November 1996 after serving several years in his country’s civil aviation authority. Qatar Airways was a state-owned carrier with a modest four-aircraft operation at the time. The airline flew only a few dozen routes, most of them within the Middle East.

A self-described hands-on, detail-oriented leader, Al Baker spearheaded what he calls a relaunch of Qatar Airways in 1997, with a focus on customer service and expansion. By the end of 2003, Qatar Airways’ fleet had grown from four jets to 28, then to 42 two years later, then to 125 by 2011 and 164 today—with service to 152 destinations on six continents.

Qatar Airways is the world’s best airline according to Skytrax, a consulting firm that ranks and reviews airlines and airports. Qatar Airways first topped the Skytrax passenger survey—the industry standard—in 2011 and has been ranked no lower than second since. Qatar Airways was named the 2015 winner of the consulting firm’s best airline award earlier this year, a coveted accolade it won for the third time.

Given that success, Al Baker’s ambitious goal to grow Qatar Executive into the world’s premier business aircraft charter service seems inevitable.

“The entities that are chartering our aircraft are not necessarily Qatar or Gulf based,” Al Baker says. “That is a testament to what we have built. But demand is surging and our services must keep pace.”

Proven Aviation Leader

Al Baker is a leader who relishes challenges. He was the force behind the development of Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport, a decade-long project that opened in April 2014. That Al Baker undertook the enterprise in the midst of Qatar Airways’ expansion and the establishment of Qatar Executive speaks to his passion for aviation in his homeland.

The US$15 billion airport can accommodate up to 30 million passengers a year with additional construction phases to boost capacity to 50 million passengers by the end of the decade. Hamad International provides a resort-like environment for travelers, with extensive retail and dining offerings, an on-site hotel, lounges and a wellness area complete with pool, gym, spa and squash courts.

Hamad International is also the home base for Qatar Executive, where a new full-service private aviation hub is under construction and set to be completed by the end of 2015. Airport management reports to Qatar Airways, and Al Baker sees the airport as a key element to shaping Qatar as an international aviation hub.

Worldwide Charter Provider

Al Baker likewise envisions Qatar Executive as a worldwide charter provider. The operator recently based a business jet outside of the Middle East in Hong Kong and is tailoring its inflight experience to Asian travelers, with Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking flight attendants familiar with local customs and etiquette, and the option to dine on local cuisine.

The goal from Qatar Executive’s founding was to offer “ultimate luxury, the highest levels of personalized service and comfort, privacy and convenience through flexible and personalized travel to any place in the world,” says Al Baker, and Qatar Executive is “well-positioned to do this” with Gulfstream aircraft.

Qatar Executive’s Gulfstream G650s will have a leading role in the charter operator’s continuous worldwide expansion.

Al Baker noted the G650 is a highly sought-after aircraft in the region due to its ultralong range and ultrahigh speed. The G650 flies farther faster than any competitors’ business aircraft and provides a cabin experience that is unmatched in the industry.

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