Bali Demand Astounding, Says Qatar Airways

By William J. Furney
Managing Editor
The Bali Times

KUTA, Bali ~ European and Middle Eastern demand for Bali as a holiday destination has been “phenomenal,” Doha-based Qatar Airways said here this week as it announced plans to up frequency to the island.

Speaking to The Bali Times in an exclusive interview, Marwan Koleilat, the airline’s senior manager for commercial operations Far East & Australasia said executives had “no idea there would be such strong overseas demand” for Bali.

“Bali has exceeded market demand. Our flights have been 90-percent full,” said Koleilat following ceremonies on Monday opening two offices here, at Ngurah Rai International Airport and the nearby Discovery Kartika Plaza Hotel.

“Bali is known as one of the best destinations in the world, and it’s our job to open the doors to Bali, to create the demand,” he said.

Qatar Airways opened its Bali route in March this year, flying four times a week from Doha via Kuala Lumpur using Airbus A300 aircraft.

But as demand was so high, it switched to the larger-capacity A330 aircraft in September, and plans to fly daily, including direct flights from Doha to Bali, said Koleilat.

The airline started operations in January 1994, and is 50-percent owned by the government of Qatar; the remaining half is owned by private-sector investors. Only one of five global airlines awarded a Five Star ranking by independent airline auditor Skytrax, in 2004, it currently flies to 79 destinations around the world.

“We were honored – and are still honored – to be the first and only Middle Eastern airline to fly to Bali, without question one of the most famous holiday destinations in the world,” Koleilat said in a speech at the ceremonies this week.

“When the first Qatar Airways flight arrived in Bali, we were optimistic that the route would do well. We had no idea how much our expectations would be exceeded. The load factors have been phenomenal … since we launched,” he said.

Koleilat said in his interview with The Times that the Bali authorities – from officials at Ngurah Rai International Airport to the local government – had been welcoming and helpful in the airline establishing its route, mindful of the substantial boost the carrier would be providing to Bali’s vital tourism industry.

He said difficulties that affected Bali in recent years had not put off the carrier from its heavy investment in the route, as “Things [soon] went back to normal” here.

At the Dubai Air Show this week, Qatar Airlines signed an agreement for 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and five 777 cargo planes, the carrier announced, in a deal worth more than US$6.1 billion at list prices.

Qatar has also on order five of the world’s largest passenger plane, for delivery in 2010, the Airbus A380, which went into service at Singapore Airlines last month.

There is enormous tourism potential in Bali, according to Koleilat, who said the market here remained underdeveloped.

“Bali needs more tourists. We have found out that a lot of people want to come here,” he said.

“Bali has a lot of potential,” he said.

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One Response to “Bali Demand Astounding, Says Qatar Airways”

  1. Jamie Thompson Says:

    Well done to Qatar. I’m from the UK and I have been traveling to Bali for many years as I have family there. I traveled to Bali with Qatar at the end of March on the inaugural flight. I am really pleased the airline is doing well on this route. I would also like to thank the Bali Times for keeping me updated of the goings on whilst I’m in cold England.
    Best Regards Jay (Jaya)