Qatar Aviation Services (QAS) has grown in Doha as Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport have evolved into one of the globe’s biggest airlines and airports respectively.
The ground handler now provides services to 26 commercial airlines and five freighter carriers at two airports in Qatar.
Mehmet Murat Nursel, Senior Vice President, QAS says that 2018 was a successful year in terms of accelerating handling activities with continuous growth of Qatar Airways including
cargo business growth. “This means we have gone beyond our forecasts in terms of the number of flights handled as well as revenue growth with double-digit results,” he says. “Especially after Qatar’s blockade which started in June 2017, this proves the strength and capabilities of aviation in Qatar that is admired by our competitors.”
This year is set to be equally as busy and QAS will expand further as Qatar Airways has opened new routes as well as increased flight frequencies, which has enabled the handler to forecast
significant growth of patterns for the next fiscal year as well.
“We are aiming to grow our revenue more than 10% with 6% increase in flights, which makes QAS the largest workforce within the group and the sole ground handler at HIA reaching up to 9,500 employees,” Nursel says.
Aside from the from core ground handling activities and maintaining standards, he says QAS is aiming to carry forward with automation and digitalisation, keeping safety as the top priority and at the core of everything.
Nursel says business growth motivation such as taking over new businesses is another area the handler is moving forward which is beyond GH activities that he feels will give QAS more exposure in the international market.
QAS has opened its first office outside in New Delhi which is its Global Centralised Load Control and will be fully operational by January 2020 and plans to expand its services at the right time.
Nursel says any decision will be mainly based on Qatar Airways Group synergy benefits as well as bringing values to potential airports, but he adds this is currently “undisclosed”, but he assures that QAS “will soon be globally renowned”.
However, there are challenges, even for an operator like QAS which is driven by such a huge and expanding home carrier.
“The ground handling industry has many challenges, and to me the most challenging element would still be the consolidations of minor and major ground handling companies which are launching soon,” he says.
“That is normal for such a rapidly growing industry, such as ground handling yet, it will bring with it many operational encounters such as maintaining quality, safety standards and the level of service.”
He feels that ultimately, the more you expand the service points, the more you add to management competency and therefore sees maintaining senior experience as well as attracting executive employees to choose ground handling as their future career is the biggest operating challenge.
Innovation and technology are near the top of the future of QAS and it is currently working to link all operational movements per aircraft into an automation sequence.
“The aim is to minimise or eliminate human error when it comes to rectifying data, planning, and monitoring, acknowledgements, finalising ramp clearance, load control and post data management,” Nursel says.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Yemen, Egypt, the Maldives and Bahrain cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar which also meant closing their airspace to Qatar Airways.
Nursel believes the “unique circumstances” in which QAS is doing business has necessitated growth at an accelerated pace and the future is bright for both aviation and Qatar Airways Group in particular. “As a result, we have demonstrated to the world our capacity for resilience and rapid expansion. That is not set to slow down but to continue to raise,” he concludes.