QATARS LAUNCH FARES SWEEP THE MARKET
True to their word, that their launch fares would rock the market, has Qatar Airways now published incredible deals for the first week of operations into Uganda, covering the period between 02nd November until 11th November. Regular travelers, when told of the launch fares, were stunned, asking after quoting the figures and what is the fare then, simply being unable to believe that such deals could ever be on offer in this day and age of inflation.
A range of destinations is one offer for US Dollars 99 RETURN, PLUS taxes that is, which considering how travelers are fleeced these days by regulatory bodies with an array of charges that can run into a multiple of the fare itself, starting from Dubai and destinations in India such as Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmadabad, Kochi and of course Delhi itself.
Key European and Asian destinations such as Frankfurt, London, Paris, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Beijing sell at US Dollars 199 RETURN, PLUS taxes, making it as cheap as never before to see Incredible India or experience Malaysia, Truly Asia.
The fares have created the anticipated buzz in the market and bargain hunters are reportedly queuing up already to get Visa application processed to be able to take advantage of such Christmas has come early fares. Qatar will commence flights on 02nd November, bringing a daily A320 nonstop service from Doha to Entebbe, and the arrival of the airline has already been hailed as a breakthrough for Entebbe as a destination, prompting other carriers in the wake of Qatars announcement earlier in the year to also join the bandwagon to the Pearl of Africa.
Next in line will be Gulf Air, but their described somewhat rocky market entry they still have not announced a GSA nor been able to confirm an office location at this stage has been further clouded when their own launch fares were announced late in the week, which range for Gulf destinations and India at US Dollars 200 return, PLUS taxes, while select European and Asian destinations sell at US Dollar 350, comparing poorly with Qatars rock bottom offers. A leading travel agent, clearly not wanting to wreck relations with Gulf, shared his analysis with this correspondent on condition of anonymity: Gulf must have known that they cannot match Qatars fares when those leaked into the market before the official announcement was made. Maybe they thought that once the hype is over it gives them time until their own launch in early December, to see the market level out again, although I expect other airlines at the time, like Turkish and Qatar, to hold against whatever Gulf will put on the market for their own launch period. After that it will be anyones guess how the market shares will shift and what segment each airline can capture. Qatar is known for high quality, so that speaks for them though their use of a narrow body to Doha is maybe a setback for premium travelers, but then Turkish faces the same problem and Gulf too will have to deal with the comparison of narrow body versus wide body comfort on flights from Entebbe to their respective hubs.
All these airlines will mainly be looking to capture traffic from their networks to come to Uganda as our market here is getting saturated with seats until there is a another big jump in demand by Ugandans to travel abroad, after inflation has come down and the economy begins to recover.
Interesting insights adds this correspondent in closing while monitoring the aviation market even more closely for the next few weeks to see emerging trends in market share shift with the entry of two new players. Watch this space for regular and breaking news on aviation issues from the entire region.