‘We are preparing for the future of inflight,’ declares Qatar Duty Free

By Luke Barras-hill |

QatarmainimageQatar Duty Free (QDF) Vice President Operations Thabet Musleh has told TRBusiness that flag carrier Qatar Airways’ partnership with the travel retailer and Hamad International Airport represents a ‘huge opportunity’ to leverage retail synergies throughout the entire customer journey [see below video].

In an exclusive video interview conducted during the TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference, Musleh addressed directly speculation that Qatar Airways has stopped its onboard duty free business entirely, clarifying it has instead been ‘suspended’.

“We have the customer at each touchpoint of their journey and believe inflight, as it was, is not the future. We are preparing for the future.”


Musleh was reticent to reveal further details on what exactly this would mean and merely stated: “In true Qatar Airways style we will be coming back with a five-star offer for the customer. It is all about leveraging the fact we are part of the airline, airport and retailer.”

Speaking more generally about the current state of inflight duty free, he added: “Digital is taking effect, by the end of next year a lot of planes in the Qatar Airways fleet will have super-wifi onboard and we have a lot already.

“When you’ve got over 50,000 products on the ground you are almost doing the customer an injustice just by offering them 150 or 160 products from the inflight cart.”


Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free have suspended the inflight duty free service. Source: Qatar Airways.


Elsewhere, he reflected on QDF’s strong financial year in 2018 and enthused about the business in the first five months of 2019.

QDF customers have become accustomed to witnessing wave after wave of new, predominantly luxury, brand openings, with Penhaligon’s and Pandora just two of the most recent.

These enhance a staple of more than 90 luxury boutiques and outlets, including the likes of Tiffany & Co. Swarovski, Bulgari, Gucci, Hermes, Aigner and a Samsung Experience Zone.

Despite the heavy onus on luxury, Musleh tells TRBusiness that this won’t necessarily be the travel retailer’s raison d’être moving forward.

“We have a high number of transit passengers and what makes us really unique is our diverse portfolio; we have to cater for everyone. This year alone, we’re undergoing major refurbishments to our core categories, which should start in the next few months and should be completed by the end of this year.

“It will totally refurbish the whole area and we will continue to look at our offer and make sure it delivers for everybody.”

Stay close to TRBusiness for more insight on the Qatar Duty Free business.



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