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A Good Airline, Yes, but Why Such Mediocre Lower Management ?

A Good Airline, Yes, but Why Such Mediocre Lower Management ?

Old Jul 24, 17, 1:57 pm
  #1  
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A Good Airline, Yes, but Why Such Mediocre Lower Management ?

Hello All...

Why does such a highly rated airline make mistakes that even Second Rate Carriers (some even call them "Crap" ) manage to avoid?

1) QR 920 / 24 Jul, DOH / AKL, the world's longest flight, filled last night to the rafters (a B777-200, 100% full, I believe) boarded from Gate E24, the furthest away Ground Floor gate, boarding by buses. This when dozens of QR flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrein an Egypt are cancelled due to the political situation, with literally tens of gates accessible by air bridges, plain vacant and unused.

The Gate Supervisor's explanation that "The airport not the airline, assigns gates" makes no sense in DOH where the overwhelming majority of movements is QR, especially these weeks. His adding that "It depends where the incoming aircraft is parked" does not help. Haven't QR and Hamad Airport heard of towing aircraft? It happens routinely everywhere and even is the rule for international carriers in places like Chicago.

2) Why does Business Class catering for 2 flights with heavy logical connections such as CDG/ DOH and DOH/AKL have to be EXACTLY identical for the main meal (and by the way not very good), making the trip more tedious and boring than it needs to be during close to 23 hours plus connecting time? Even (again, "crap"...) US airlines know better than serving the exact same food on sectors TO and FROM the main hub airports.

Maybe Qatar Airways should remember that they compete on a superior travel experience (and they usually do it rather well) but that they still impose 1-stop flights when their competitors can often offer the nonstop advantage.

The two points above are not Rocket Science, they should be easy to correct.

Last edited by Cofyknsult; Jul 24, 17 at 3:42 pm
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Old Jul 24, 17, 4:03 pm
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Odd statement as the airport and the airline are essentially one company.
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Old Jul 24, 17, 5:26 pm
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Originally Posted by Cofyknsult View Post
1) QR 920 / 24 Jul, DOH / AKL, the world's longest flight, filled last night to the rafters (a B777-200, 100% full, I believe) boarded from Gate E24, the furthest away Ground Floor gate, boarding by buses. This when dozens of QR flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrein an Egypt are cancelled due to the political situation, with literally tens of gates accessible by air bridges, plain vacant and unused.

The Gate Supervisor's explanation that "The airport not the airline, assigns gates" makes no sense in DOH where the overwhelming majority of movements is QR, especially these weeks. His adding that "It depends where the incoming aircraft is parked" does not help. Haven't QR and Hamad Airport heard of towing aircraft? It happens routinely everywhere and even is the rule for international carriers in places like Chicago.
There is a wave of flights that leave DOH in the 0030-0215 time block. The incoming 77L will often not have a airbridge-served gate to park at, so it goes remote. Just because there are bridge-served stands free at 0301 does not mean that they are free when the 77L arrives at (say) 0100. Airports with towing operations aim to have the aircraft towed on stand between 45-60 minutes before departure, so given the time constraints of the main wave there is no point risking an on time departure by disrupting catering or being held up on tow due to other airfield movements. Being bussed to an aircraft is not unusual and very seldom results in a delayed push. I've had buses numerous times at DOH (and many other international airports) and frankly it is nothing to get precious over.

The cancellation of the blockaded flights actually don't free up all that many bridge-served stands; most of those flights operate using narrowbody aircraft which are usually assigned remote stands anyway.
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Old Jul 24, 17, 10:46 pm
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Originally Posted by Downunderdesert View Post
Odd statement as the airport and the airline are essentially one company.
Absolutely... Hence my title "...Mediocre Lower Management..."
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Old Jul 24, 17, 11:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Top of climb View Post
There is a wave of flights that leave DOH in the 0030-0215 time block. The incoming 77L will often not have a airbridge-served gate to park at, so it goes remote. Just because there are bridge-served stands free at 0301 does not mean that they are free when the 77L arrives at (say) 0100. Airports with towing operations aim to have the aircraft towed on stand between 45-60 minutes before departure, so given the time constraints of the main wave there is no point risking an on time departure by disrupting catering or being held up on tow due to other airfield movements. Being bussed to an aircraft is not unusual and very seldom results in a delayed push. I've had buses numerous times at DOH (and many other international airports) and frankly it is nothing to get precious over.

The cancellation of the blockaded flights actually don't free up all that many bridge-served stands; most of those flights operate using narrowbody aircraft which are usually assigned remote stands anyway.
Your explanation is interesting, Thank you. I am however not sure that it is accurate:

I counted many empty air bridge equipped stands BOTH on arrival from CDG at 23.10 (A 380) and before departing to AKL at 03.01.
I usually do not "count" empty stands on arrival but I noticed it this time as I thought that the traffic suspension took its toll on QR's volume of operations. It is unlikely that so many unoccupied gates when I arrived AND departed were all made unavailable to QR 920 by so many In and Out movements occuring between those times.

Besides, DOH - AKL is not only the longest flight in the World, it is also one among those with the highest load factor. Finally, that a terminal opened only 3 years ago should have such a high occupancy of its least practical parking stands even for aircraft as big as B 777, denotes a serious design flaw.
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Old Jul 25, 17, 12:21 am
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Originally Posted by Cofyknsult View Post
Your explanation is interesting, Thank you. I am however not sure that it is accurate:

I counted many empty air bridge equipped stands BOTH on arrival from CDG at 23.10 (A 380) and before departing to AKL at 03.01.
I usually do not "count" empty stands on arrival but I noticed it this time as I thought that the traffic suspension took its toll on QR's volume of operations. It is unlikely that so many unoccupied gates when I arrived AND departed were all made unavailable to QR 920 by so many In and Out movements occuring between those times.

Besides, DOH - AKL is not only the longest flight in the World, it is also one among those with the highest load factor. Finally, that a terminal opened only 3 years ago should have such a high occupancy of its least practical parking stands even for aircraft as big as B 777, denotes a serious design flaw.
My AKL flight was bussed from the terminal in April. It was minor detraction to a seemless service, but it was handled adequately and better than most other airports I have had the displeasure to need to be bussed to the craft. We pushed back a little late but arrived on time at AKL. I didn't see the issue of needing to be bussed to the craft a management failure given that the terminal is busy at that time.
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Old Jul 25, 17, 1:17 am
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While it is fair to say that the majority of flights leaving DOH, are on QR, QR do not own the airport. As such, they do not select the gates; Top of climb has pointed out that there can be numerous reasons for remote-stand gates.

I will also enter another possibility, which is that the original aircraft may have gone Tech. There is absolutely no way of knowing, and one data point is not enough to make any sort of regular conclusion. The majority of the terminal stands (opposed to remote stands) are designed for larger aircraft, but, as I and others have said, there may well be reasons as to why your flight could not be parked onto one at the time is was cleaned, catered, loaded with freight, etc.

I have flown with multiple airlines, and many park on remote stands. The reasoning behind it, is not something I question; although it is always massively frustrating to sit on the bus and drive past empty gates! Whether that means a totally full A380 (on EK at DXB), a wheelchair-heavy 777-300 (on SQ at SIN) or a freight heavy 777-200 (on QR at DOH), there are always reasons behind the decision.

I don't have a background in Airport Operations, so cant really comment further on the matter, other than to say that airlines don't make decisions to make life harder for themselves.

While I do appreciate it is currently the longest passenger flight in the world, that really doesn't make any difference to anything. That is Marketing, and a tiny percentage of people who have flown the route, would have done so purely because of the marketing spiel.

In terms of the 100% load factor, many flights leave HIA with high (95% and above) loads, so that is nothing special.

On the catering front, it may well be that QR have found only certain meals last that long in the cabin environment. Not all airlines offer Dine-on-Demand in J, and so one would need to see the full menu on EK, for example. on a comparable ultra-longhaul flight to see how they manage matters. There is a J Menus section in the QR Dashboard, so by all means see if that menu matches yours; if only to ensure they offer entirely identical main dishes.

It is common for there to be very similar main dishes on QR menus, but if they are absolutely identical, might it be that they popular? Perhaps passengers like that option?

In terms of the 1 stop flight comment you make, to reach AKL from either New York or Paris (your home towns), you would have to stop at least once. Therefore, flying on QR was a conscious decision based on the airline opposed to the fact that you had a layover built into the ticket. Unless you are flying from Asia, there is no direct option available.

QR management do check this Forum on a regular basis, so I'm sure they will see this Thread before I move it into the usual Complaints/Rant Thread, but I'm not sure they will be rushing to do anything about their "Lower Management", as you did not encounter anyone who was a member of the QR Management team.

I do hope the remainder of the journey was enjoyable, other than the menu items not being to your tastes.

Safe travels,

M
msm2000uk is online now  
Old Jul 25, 17, 9:12 am
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I never quite got people's grief with DOH's D/E gates. Especially with help from the travelators or the train, getting there is a matter of minutes. There are so many airports with way worse gate to gate time.
That being said, DOH's gate assignment does seem to be a bit random at times. I don't know many airports where planes as big as a 777 get the bus treatment that often, though there's definitely a connection to DOH's limited gate capacities. But just because a gate is empty at a given moment doesn't mean that it would have been free for the whole required duration.

And DOH and QR are definitely not the same company just because they share stakeholders. I often noticed subtle clues that there seems to be quite some rivalry between the two. After all, they are led by different people following different interests.
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Old Jul 25, 17, 9:49 am
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makrom please look at https://www.qatarairways.com/en-dk/a...r-airways.html which says "A highly motivated individual, Mr. Al Baker has been a successful businessman in Doha for more than 25 years, holds a private pilot licence, and is also CEO of several divisions of Qatar’s national airline – these being Qatar Executive, Hamad International Airport, Qatar Aviation Services, Qatar Aircraft Catering Company, Qatar Distribution Company, Qatar Duty Free and Internal Media Services." and https://dohahamadairport.com/about-us/our-organization says "Hamad International Airport is the hub of Qatar Airways, the award-winning five-star airline. These two organisations are part of the Qatar Airways Group that also includes other key players in the region’s aviation sector. All our brands share a commitment: to provide the very best customer service."

The CEO of each company? The said Akbar Al Baker!
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Old Jul 25, 17, 10:02 am
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Originally Posted by remdk View Post
makrom please look at https://www.qatarairways.com/en-dk/a...r-airways.html which says "A highly motivated individual, Mr. Al Baker has been a successful businessman in Doha for more than 25 years, holds a private pilot licence, and is also CEO of several divisions of Qatar’s national airline – these being Qatar Executive, Hamad International Airport, Qatar Aviation Services, Qatar Aircraft Catering Company, Qatar Distribution Company, Qatar Duty Free and Internal Media Services." and https://dohahamadairport.com/about-us/our-organization says "Hamad International Airport is the hub of Qatar Airways, the award-winning five-star airline. These two organisations are part of the Qatar Airways Group that also includes other key players in the region’s aviation sector. All our brands share a commitment: to provide the very best customer service."

The CEO of each company? The said Akbar Al Baker!
But AAB does not assign gates to aircraft, and HIA and QR are two separate companies - so the conversation is very much a red-herring.

M
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Old Jul 25, 17, 10:08 am
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remdk Yes true, and the lines between companies blur anyway with such state owned entities. I don't think anyone (except for AB) would argue that QR doesn't get advantageous conditions with DOH (tell them it's subsidies and you get the party started).
But none the less, as in every organization as broad as the state of Qatar with branched entites, there are competing interests, and what's in QR's management's interest isn't necessarily in DOH's management's interest.
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Old Jul 25, 17, 10:54 am
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Originally Posted by makrom View Post
remdk Yes true, and the lines between companies blur anyway with such state owned entities. I don't think anyone (except for AB) would argue that QR doesn't get advantageous conditions with DOH (tell them it's subsidies and you get the party started).
But none the less, as in every organization as broad as the state of Qatar with branched entites, there are competing interests, and what's in QR's management's interest isn't necessarily in DOH's management's interest.
Except in this instance where Al Baker is the Group Chief Executive of HIA and the Qatar Airways Group.
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Old Jul 25, 17, 12:07 pm
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Originally Posted by msm2000uk View Post
In terms of the 1 stop flight comment you make, to reach AKL from either New York or Paris (your home towns), you would have to stop at least once. Therefore, flying on QR was a conscious decision based on the airline opposed to the fact that you had a layover built into the ticket. Unless you are flying from Asia, there is no direct option available.
Don't get me wrong, I like and mostly enjoy QR, and yes, I made a conscious decision to fly them. In this case however, I can think of many 1 stop itineraries where I would have received better transit conditions, better less boring food and decent enough service.

Even if HE AAB is sometimes considered overbearing, there is no doubt that QR would be even better with many in his staff working up to his instructions and expectations. Often (as yesterday) it just is not the case.
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Old Jul 25, 17, 12:32 pm
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Agree wholeheartedly about point 2.

Disagree about point 1:

- 1 gate assignment is a lot more complex than you might think and there is a preference to use contact gates when possible. On the 24th of July 75% of departures used contact gates.

- QR does boarding by bus much better than most other airlines/airports I have tried, it really isn't as much of an inconvenience as say LHR.

- On the 24th indeed during your departure bank not all gates were used though today (25) on the same bank they were, they still managed to have roughly the same number of departures using contact gates because they had more gates with 2 departures during the same bank on the 24th than on the 25th.

- Just because you observe a gate being free on your arrival and then again on your departure doesn't mean it was free the whole time, and just because a gate appears free doesn't mean it is available. Things break and there are a lot of things that need regular maintenance at contact gates. For example they did a lot of tarmac repairs at some point. There is some construction preparation work due soon where 4 gates will not be available you won't be able to notice the work from your viewpoint inside the terminal until the construction work advances.

- Towing the aircraft isn't always feasible or preferable for QR's schedule structure and limitations at DOH depending on the ground time and location. Long tows are also stressful to the aircraft landing gear. QR does do it though when possible. The examples you give in the US are mostly in relation to international flights where in some cases flights arrive and depart at different terminals such as in ORD, or have very long ground times making a tow feasible.

Regarding the relationship between QR and HIA, there are some operational aspects that are out of QR's management subsidiary's hand and are handled directly by the CAA. The airport is also bound by regulations to ensure fairness in dealing with other airlines (vis a vis QR) in operational aspects (slots, ATC sequencing, gate usage). Yes QR has advantages in other areas that are not covered by these regulations such as space for lounges, duty free concession etc.
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Old Jul 26, 17, 7:52 am
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Originally Posted by Top of climb View Post
There is a wave of flights that leave DOH in the 0030-0215 time block. The incoming 77L will often not have a airbridge-served gate to park at, so it goes remote. Just because there are bridge-served stands free at 0301 does not mean that they are free when the 77L arrives at (say) 0100. Airports with towing operations aim to have the aircraft towed on stand between 45-60 minutes before departure, so given the time constraints of the main wave there is no point risking an on time departure by disrupting catering or being held up on tow due to other airfield movements. Being bussed to an aircraft is not unusual and very seldom results in a delayed push. I've had buses numerous times at DOH (and many other international airports) and frankly it is nothing to get precious over.

The cancellation of the blockaded flights actually don't free up all that many bridge-served stands; most of those flights operate using narrowbody aircraft which are usually assigned remote stands anyway.
Funnily enough, an A320 to HEL got a B-gate yesterday during the 0030-0215 block


I also agree with the comment someone made about how DOH is a brand new airport but with bus boarding. My random question is did they have to make the terminal so wide? Seems like so much space is wasted on large corridors but there aren't that many gates.

At the same time, I also agree with the comment on how boarding by bus in DOH is really easy and convenient compared to other airports. What is annoying is disembarking a heavy by bus when you have a 45 minute connection though, but it's a testament to DOH's efficiency that you can make it (trying making a 45 minute connection in LHR even without buses).
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