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Excited for Emirates

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Jabr Al-Azeeby,
Manager for Thailand and Indochina,
Emirates Airlines.

Jabr sees many opportunities for Emirates Airlines to explore in Thailand and the region, although competition is tougher than ever.

By Percy Roxas.

Last year, Emirates Airlines appointed a new area manager for Thailand and Indochina – Jabr Al-Azeeby. Jabr replaces Khalid Salim Saeed Salim Bardan who has spearheaded the airline’s growth in the area for the last three and a half years. Jabr brings to Thailand extensive experience in the aviation industry since beginning his career as area manager in Uganda with Emirates (2008-2011), and prior to his present appointment as manager for Cyprus from 2011 to 2012.

“It is a real honor and pleasure to continue my career with one of the world’s fastest-growing international airlines and to oversee Thailand and Indochina is an exciting new challenge,” says Jabr upon his appointment. “I am committed to continuing the growth of Emirates in Thailand and across Indochina by pursuing initiatives that effectively meet the needs of business and leisure travelers in the region.

“Aviation, like many other industries, is an ever challenging environment to be in,” says Jabr. “Each airline is sensitive to various happenings from local to international scale to varying degrees. One thing for sure: is there are great opportunities for players in this industry to explore and tap upon. What we see today was unthinkable a decade ago and I am excited to witness and experience the evolution of aviation.”

With the Asean Economic Community (AEC) coming up in 2015, Jabr foresees significant increase in cross-border traffic within the region and beyond. “Countries that were previously less opened will be making presence and we might see new airlines emerging alongside rapid development in countries like Myanmar and Vietnam, where we have just started a new route,” he said in an exclusive interview Lookeast editor Percy Roxas recently.

“I believe the region will be attracting more inbound traffic from continents around the world for both business and leisure purposes. The next few years or so will certainly be an exciting era for the region as well as for Emirates. With that happening, Emirates Airlines will have to ensure our market positioning remains strong and that we continue to expand our base of loyal customers.

“Although the industry is now more competitive than ever, I see many opportunities for Emirates to explore in Thailand and the region. To have the beautiful island of Phuket added to our extensive portfolio is an important move which reinforces Emirates’ commitment in Thailand.

“I am looking forward to working with my team to strengthen Emirates’ position and serve customers with the highest level of products and services.”

Here are more excerpts from the exclusive interview:

Q: What’s the latest with Emirates?
A: As of Nov. 27, 2013, Emirates global network covers 126 destinations in more than 74 countries. We have launched 12 routes in 2012 with two more recently: Adelaide in November and Phuket in December. Two so far have been announced for 2013: Warsaw and Algiers.

Emirates Airlines has grown from its early days in 1985, when it was launched with just two aircraft, to its current status as one of the world’s fastest growing airline with 171 wide-body aircraft including the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 777s and A380s. Currently, Emirates is the world’s largest A380 operator with a total order of 90 aircraft. From Thailand, Emirates operate daily the popular A380 to Dubai and Hong Kong. Emirates currently operates a fleet of 189 aircraft, and has a further 213 aircraft on order. Renowned for its superior service and innovative product, Emirates has received more than 400 international accolades, forging a reputation for customer service of the highest quality.

Q: What makes the airline unique or different from other airlines in similar categories?
A: Our world-class products and services, and being in the forefront of innovation in the industry; we’re always one of the first to introduce the latest, most advanced aviation technologies to consumers. “Hello Tomorrow” has been one of the most significant branding initiatives for us. We see traveling as a meaningful experience and our role is the bridge that connects people’s hopes, dreams, and inspirations.

Q: How would you describe the airlines today in terms of growth and success?
A: On its strong upward trajectory, Emirates continues to be one of the fastest growing airlines in the world. In spite of unstable global economic, geopolitical and environmental conditions, Emirates continue to make a profit in the first half of 2012-13 fiscal year. Emirates’ net profit is AED1.7 billion (US$464 million) up 104 percent from AED836 million (US$228 million).

Q: How would you describe the role of Emirates in the overall current state of the airline industry?
A: Leading the way in innovation and technologies; supporting growing demand for high-quality/premium travel experience from all corners of the world; setting trends; and enabler of global connectivity.

Q: What is the most pressing challenge your airline is facing today and how are you coping with them?
A: In the first half of its financial year 2012-13, Emirates posted strong business growth both in terms of capacity on offer and traffic carried, a performance that has been in sharp contrast to the current trend seen across the aviation industry.

Our half yearly results remain robust despite continued global economic pressure and continued high fuel prices. Even with the challenging operating environment, the Emirates Group continued to invest in and expand on its employee base, increasing its overall staff by more than 8 percent in just six months to nearly 68,000.

Q: Tell us more about how current developments are affecting your operations?
A: The rise of low-cost carriers does not have a direct impact on Emirates as we are looking at different markets altogether. Although low-cost carriers might be attractive to consumers who wish to save cost, there exists great demands, which are continuously growing for convenient and comfortable flying. This is especially true for business travelers and even families traveling on vacation, where comfort is top priority.

Our hard work and drive to stay on course and continue to grow keep Emirates’ performance strong even in times of fluctuating fuel costs. Spiraling fuel costs is an industry-wide situation faced by all airlines hence the winners are the ones who work very hard to minimize impact on business caused by such uncontrollable circumstances.

Q: How long has the airline been serving Bangkok?
A: Emirates has been operating in Thailand for over 21 years. Bangkok is one of the fastest growing and most important markets for Emirates in Asia.

Currently, from Bangkok Emirates operates 28 flights per week to Dubai, 7 flights per week to Hong Kong, and 7 flights per week to Sydney and Christchurch. Passengers are on average a mix of 50/50 business and leisure. The seat factors are at 80 percent.

As mentioned earlier, Emirates started operating services last December between Dubai and Phuket, the airline’s second hub in Thailand.

Q: Why should passengers choose Emirates to fly?
A: For a lot of reasons. First the A380, where first-class passengers can relax in one of 14 private suites, with seats that convert to fully flat beds. Emirates in also the first to introduce two fully equipped bathrooms in its first-class cabins, including shower facilities. The aircraft also features two bar areas, one for the First Class and the other for the Business Class passengers. Business Class passengers can relax in seats that convert to fully flat beds up to 79 inches (two meters) long, while those traveling in Economy Class can stretch out in seats with a pitch of up to 33 inches. Customers can access the service of Wi-Fi in the sky onboard their flights using their Wi-Fi enabled devices including smart phones, tablets, and laptops.

Passengers in all classes can enjoy Emirates’ award winning ICE (information, communication and entertainment) Digital Widescreen in-flight entertainment system, which features over 1,200 channels of on-demand entertainment.

At Emirates’ hub in Dubai, First Class and Business Class passengers have their dedicated Emirates check-in terminal, and complimentary chauffeur-driven service to and from related airports.