Seamless connections

posted on 25th April 2018

Brad Moore, senior vice president Ground Services at Qatar Airways, shares his thoughts about the importance of customer service on the ground as the carrier continues its rapid expansion

Aviation is Moore’s passion and he has been engaged in the industry since 1994, holding a commercial pilot’s licence. After Air Canada and Qantas, Qatar Airways is the third major airline where he has been a senior post-holder. After a lengthy career in aviation, he regards it as “an honour” to work for what he believes to be the world’s best airline in his current role as senior vice president for Ground Services.
Asked why, he says: “This is a critical department in our airline’s operations, especially given our rapid expansion.
“Ground Services provides our passengers with their connection to the services that the airline offers while they are in the airport. Our job is to give them the same seamless, personalised and smooth travel experience everywhere across the Qatar Airways network, from the longest established to the newest of our stations. I am enormously proud of my team, who do this job outstandingly well.”

So, what is the latest news from Qatar Airways in terms of your ground services?
Qatar Airways is at the forefront of customer service at every level. That’s one of the many reasons why we are consistently rated so highly by our passengers in ‘customer satisfaction’ surveys.
We achieve this through being very customer focused, offering a personal touch, whilst also offering an increasing range of very user-friendly, self-service options, involving the use of technology.
Currently in collaboration with Hamad International Airport (HIA), our hub airport, and Qatar Aviation Services (QAS) our ground handling agent, we are developing some exciting automation projects to enhance passengers’ seamless travel experience, such as new check-in kiosks, electronic bag-tag capability and automated bag drop stations. Several of these are aligned with IATA’s Fast Travel programme, while others are an expression of Qatar Airways doing what it does, as a leader in aviation.

Are passenger demands changing?
Certainly: increasingly, passengers are tending to want a suite of service options where they can customise interactions that suit their present needs. For example, some prefer a highly personalised service, while others want more self-service.
In Qatar Airways Ground Services, our vision is to build our suite of these offerings including enhancements to our growing digital solutions that passengers can access from their mobile devices. We are not simply responding to customers’ changing demands, but predicting those trends and positioning ourselves to stay ahead of their needs.

How do you ensure a consistent standard in ground handling across the countries you serve?
Within Qatar, our approach is a blend of self-handling and partnering with other Qatar Airways Group subsidiaries. Across our global network, we engage with other GHAs.
Qatar Airways establishes very clear performance expectations and we measure each GHA’s performance monthly against a comprehensive range of KPIs. Stations across the network are then ranked by their performance and managed accordingly.
Here in Doha, Qatar Airways self-handles a range of needs ‘above the wing’, providing a suite of ground services and passenger lounge products. ‘Below the wing’, we partner with QAS. It needs to be noted that in our ranking of all the GHAs across our global network, it is QAS, our internal partner, which consistently outperforms every other GHA.
While most of our growth has happened outside the Middle East, we have also opened new routes and increased frequencies into existing destinations within the region.
The main challenge for us remains catering to increased demand for our airline by service-hungry travellers. HIA passenger numbers have grown throughout 2017 and Qatar is rapidly growing in popularity as a holiday and stopover destination in its own right.

What are your plans for the rest of this year (and beyond) as regards your ground services, partnerships and your network?
Throughout 2017 we have opened 11 new destinations and our group CEO recently announced at ITB Berlin a further 16 new routes to be opened throughout 2018/2019.
Our focus will be on: continuing to achieve and maintain our quality and performance standards during this season of sustained and rapid growth; progressing the development of our growing suite of product offerings; and continuing to hold the GHAs across our network to these same quality and service performance standards.
We work hard to recognise our GHA partners where they do a great job. The vast majority of our GHA partners perform very well. However, if a GHA outside of Doha does not meet our very exacting standards, we are prepared to change GHAs. This is to improve our capability for expanding our ground services operations in destinations where this may be warranted.
At the end of the day, performance is key and I expect our GHA partners to perform to our exceptional service standards for every flight.

What are your hopes and expectations for this year’s IATA Ground Handling Conference?
This IGHC is a significant event for Qatar Airways and QAS and it is indeed an honour to host such a prestigious event at our home base in Doha. I hope that all in attendance can get the benefit of reviewing and observing best practice in the ground handling industry.
Most importantly, this conference gives the aviation industry the opportunity to see QAS showcased to the world. There is no better way for our industry colleagues to see and understand why they are the world’s premier ground handling service provider.