Following a successful 2006, Austrian Airlines expects to see a banner year in 2007, with several new initiatives being rolled out, according to the carrier’s regional manager for the Gulf and Lebanon, Karim El Sanadily.
With the addition of a new route to Chicago as of May 29, the airline will offer travellers out of Dubai six weekly connections to the Windy City. Fares in the inaugural promotional period until June 15 begin at Dh2700++.
“As a destination, Chicago is very attractive to travellers from the region, and we will be pushing ahead to maximise load capacity on this route,” said El Sanadily.
The airline is also offering several new deals, whether in terms of summer packages or tailor-made offerings such as golf packages.
“In collaboration with the Austrian Tourism Board, we have several package deals for golfers. Austria is home to several magnificent 9- and 18-hole golf courses, and our packages offer golfers the facility for free and excess luggage,” said El Sanadily.
For Dh3780++ ($1029.3) for example, golfers can avail of economy class return tickets, four nights’ four-star twin-sharing hotel accommodation and five days’ car rental.
In line with its strategy as the gateway to Eastern and Western Europe, the airline expects Vienna to serve as a hub to traditional destinations in Western Europe as well as to Eastern Europe’s emerging hot spots, such as Prague, Ljubljana and Budapest.
Only six hours’ flying time to Europe and three hours’ journey by car to Munich or Prague, Vienna is the ideal base for visitors to the continent, said Sanadily.
For tourists that want a city break, the airline’s Vienna package is priced at Dh2900++ and includes return economy class tickets, three nights’ four-star hotel accommodation, daily breakfast, arrival transfers and a half day city tour.
“Since 2004, the airline has seen double digit growth year on year, and 2007 has stated very profitably – we expect that it will continue booming,” El Sanadily said. “This reflects the development of the country and the region, and with major companies moving operations to Dubai, the aviation sector is making rapid strides. Demand is still higher than supply, and that does not look likely to change for some time. In fact, demand from the Gulf area has consistently been on the increase.”
This indicates that the airline is looking at increasing operations into the region, a move he said has been researched and shows promising results. This is likely to form part of a ‘huge project’ for 2008 that will further improve the airline’s product, particularly in business class, where demand is constantly on the rise.
Austrian Airlines is the leader in terms of load factor on the Dubai-Vienna route, he said, adding that 75,217 UAE nationals checked into Austrian hotels last year.
Austrian currently flies to Dubai (daily), Tripoli (five flights a week), Larnaca (ten flights weekly) and Tehran (thrice a week) in the Middle East, and has codeshare deals with airlines into Cairo (12 times weekly), Amman (five flights a week) and Damascus (nine flights each week).
It was the first European carrier to launch flights to Iraq – with a thrice-weekly frequency to Arbil – and the route has proved extremely profitable, according to El Sanadily.