Qatar Airways looks to the future – should you?

This story appeared in our Corona AV-Daily newsletter.  Do you want to receive it for free?  You can sign up here.

Yesterday Dubai International, the world’s largest international airport, shut down as the UAE closed to international air traffic.  Nearby Qatar, and the national carrier, Qatar Airways however took a completely different approach.  The airline is actually increasing capacity, including bringing its A380s back into service.

Part of this is clearly opportunistic. With Emirates and Etihad grounded, as well as almost every Singapore Airlines flight, Qatar Airways is now one of the last remaining ways to get from Europe to much of the Far East and Australia.  It’s also likely a very profitable move for the airline, the Independent newspaper talks about certain last minute London Heathrow – Sydney flights ony being available in first class and at £6,200 ($7354).

However, Qatar Airways is also almost certainly having an eye on the post Covid-19 world.

Brisk Winter flight sales in the UK suggest that the appetite for air travel will be as high as ever when the crisis ends.  Indeed, there’s an argument to say that people will be more eager to travel after having been cooped up in their homes for months on end.

Tens of thousands of people will now be having their final flight until this passes on Qatar Airways and will experience the airline first hand.  With its #TakingYouHome social media hashtag, Qatar Airways is making a pitch for people stranded away from their home country, especially Australians.  These are people who fly and travel long-haul and are likely to do so again (and so are natural Qatar Airways customers).

There’s of course ample evidence to show that brands that think long term in economic downturns rather than completely turning off the taps, are the ones who thrive when a semblance of normality resumes and consumers start spending money again.

The recession on steroids?

This is a point made by Sarah Vizard in Marketing Week, in a very detailed piece titled, “‘It’s the recession on steroids’: Why brands need to think long-term amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

One of the case studies mentioned to prove the point comes from the airline world.  During the 2008 global financial crisis, Virgin Atlantic ran its ‘Still red hot’ brand building campaign.  In a subsequent advertising awards entry, the airline claimed a payback of over 10:1 in money invested vs revenue.

Of course in practice it’s going to be hard to justify any brand spend when people are losing their job.  However, if you are an airline marketer currently working from home, now really is the time to start thinking about what the post Covid-19 world will look like.  What can you do to make sure you’re in consumer’s minds, so that they book those first post coronavirus flights with you?

We’ve got further Covid-19 resources up on a dedicated page on our website, including a sign-up link to a free Webinar on April 21st, which we’re holding in partnership with the Aviation Festival.


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