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Gulf carriers see ‘staggering’ rise in business and first class traffic

Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have seen business and first class traffic soar, according to booking data analysed by GDS group Amadeus.

Comparing all bookings made in the Amadeus system from 2015 to 2014 on the top 10 origins and destinations (O&D) between Europe and Asia Pacific, the three main Gulf carriers saw first class passenger volumes jump 67 per cent and business class by 47 per cent.

Amadeus said this “staggering” rise in premium bookings was complemented by healthy overall growth, with a 7 per cent increase in passenger volumes across all cabin classes for these routes.

The data was analysed by Amadeus IT Group’s Travel Intelligence team, and takes into account all bookings in the Amadeus system made via traditional and online travel agencies globally. It includes one way and round trip bookings for each O&D.

Speaking to BBT, Maher Koubaa, VP for Middle East and North Africa, Airline Distribution & IT at Amadeus, said the growing trend in luxury travel as well as a positive economic environment in the Asia-Pacific region has contributed to the rise in premium traffic.

“I think the trend has been helped by the macro-economic growth in the APAC region,” said Koubaa. “We have seen luxury travel increase in the industry and most of the new growth from that is in markets like India, Thailand and South East Asia, and the Gulf carriers are doing great things to capture this growing trend.”

Looking at 2016 and onwards Koubaa predicts some “softness” in these trends due to global economic issues but still forecasts the luxury travel trend to grow.

The data also showed airports in the Middle East have noticed a shift in traveller habits: passenger traffic for flights between Europe and APAC going through Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai increased by 8 per cent.

“Travellers, especially premium passengers, want the freedom to shop for travel where they want and how they want,” said Gianni Pisanello, strategic marketing director, airline distribution at Amadeus.

“Airlines are responding to their customers’ needs by making their comprehensive offering available consistently across sales channels. This helps build and nurture customer relationships and is very much in line with Emirates’, Qatar Airways’ and Etihad Airways’ commitment to customer service excellence,” said Pisanello.

Both Emirates and Etihad Airways both renewed their distribution agreements to sell their full range of fares to travellers worldwide through agents using Amadeus. Qatar has had an agreement in place since 2014.


The top ten most popular Origins & Destinations between Europe and APAC*

1.  Frankfurt - Bangkok

2.  London - Bangkok

3.  London - Delhi

4.  London - Mumbai

5.  Paris - Tokyo

6.  Paris - Seoul

7.  Munich - Bangkok

8.  London - Hong Kong

9.  Amsterdam - Bangkok

10.  Paris - Bangkok

* calculated in terms of passenger numbers

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