Why are Middle East Airlines so Good?
By: Leyelle Mosallam / Arab America Contributing Writer
The three Middle East airlines — Etihad, Qatar Airways, and Fly Emirates — are commonly known as the ME3 carriers and have become particularly dominant airlines over the last decade. Led by Qatar Airways, the ME3 carriers have been consistently ranked on the world’s best airline lists by multiple airline ranking and review companies such as Skytrax and Airline Rankings. In 2019, Qatar Airways became the first airline in aviation history to win the world’s best airline five times and was just recently ranked the world’s best airline again in 2021.
The three Middle East carriers are commonly known for their luxurious onboard experience. Depending on the airbus and the airline, their carrier offers a personal cabin with privacy dividers and a lie-flat bed, complimentary on-demand service with quality food and beverages, showers, an onboard bar, complimentary wifi, and much more. As the hype and demand continue to rise for these airlines, many might wonder why they offer such high-quality experiences.
The first and most common answer to why these airlines offer a superior travel experience than most other airlines is because the countries these airlines are affiliated with are very wealthy. However, if we dig a little deeper, we will find out that money is not the only reason why these airlines offer such high-quality experiences.
One of the key reasons why Middle East carriers are so popular is because of the geography their airline hubs are located in. Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways are all positioned in one of the best locations for airline hubs in the world. The Middle East’s central geographic location (hence the name “The Middle East”), gives the Middle East carriers the ability to connect to any continent in the world. From Doha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Turkey, flights can travel to almost all of Asia, Africa, and Europe within 6 to 8 hours from their airline’s hub alone. In that flight time, Middle East carriers can travel to ⅔ of the world and reach about 6 billion people.
Due to the airline’s geographic advantage, the Middle East has become a hotspot for connecting flights. The ME3 airlines have been given the nickname “Super-Connectors” because of their large route network that solely relies on connections. The population of Qatar and the UAE are all dominated by ex-pats which means traveling is in less demand from the native and local population living in these two countries. This is what distinguishes Middle East carriers from other airlines. Due to the low native population, travelers who are traveling to Doha, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi are not flying to these cities as their final destination, but rather to connect them to their final destination. This is why Middle East carriers airports are referred to as “hubs” because it connects passengers from all around the world to their final destination.
It is important to note that the less traffic originating and ending in your city, the better your airline needs to be to compete for passengers. Airlines charge a premium for non-stop flights while connecting flights are sold at a discount, therefore Middle East carriers need to charge a lower price than a non-stop flight would offer. However, time over price has always been a distinguishing factor when it comes to booking a flight. Connecting flights have a longer flight time, and therefore non-stop flights are the more convenient option for many passengers. Only passengers who are more cost-sensitive will choose the cheaper and more inconvenient option (connecting flights), but passengers who could afford the convenience of flying non-stop will do so regardless of price.
This is not so great for Middle East carriers who rely on connections because appealing to low-yield (cost-sensitive) passengers will limit their airline’s prestige and ability to network. So, to compete for premium passengers who would normally take the non-stop flight, Middle East carriers have no choice but to offer a better onboard experience than the non-stop flight would provide. And, because these carriers still rely on connections their experience will still have to be cheaper. In other words, offering a better onboard experience will attract more passengers to connect with your airline because many passengers would much rather take a cheaper flight on a much better airline, than a worse flight flying direct.
Benefits of Connecting
Connecting flight gives passengers the ability to relax, stretch, move around, get some refreshments, and eat a proper meal during their layover before continuing their travels to their final destination.
In 2021, Doha Hamad International Airport was ranked the number one airport in the world. The airport offers multiple facilities for passengers with layovers to enjoy. If passengers are looking for a way to move their bodies or stretch after a long flight, they can dive in for a swim in their 25-meter pool or hit the gym in their airport wellness center. In Dubai’s International Airport you can find a popular trampoline park called BOUNCE and a basketball court which is perfect to keep kids and families entertained.
Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways all offer stop-over packages as well, and this is the easiest way to explore a new country or city without having to pay extra for airfare. If passengers wanted to stop in AbuDhabi before they continued to their final destination, they have the option to explore AbuDhabi for free or at a discounted price depending on which stop-over package they chose.
What Does a Flight with a ME3 Carrier Look Like?
From economy class to business class ME3 carriers offers high-quality service for all their passengers. Here is a look at the service you can get on a ME3 flight.
Fly Emirates Airbus A380 is the world’s largest passenger airline. The new airbus consists of a bar and even a shower!
Qatar Airways was ranked the world’s best business class of 2019. Its business class Qsuites is a unique business class model. The seats can be configured into a four-person family or work area, and the seats can even be made into a double bed.
Etihad Airways offers similar services to Fly Emirates and Qatar Airways. Their new A380 offers a lounge on their upper deck.
All ME3 carriers have had a big influence on the aviation world. They have demonstrated that the use of global hubs is often a beneficial and overlooked strategy to flying. Although ME3 carriers are subsidized by their government, it is not just the money that explains why ME3 carriers are so good. Many of these countries, especially Qatar, are trying to put their countries on the map and build up tourism. By using their geography to their advantage, ME3 carriers have been able to dominate the aviation market, and now more and more people are flying with their airlines. If you ever get an opportunity to fly with any of these three airlines, don’t pass it up. Their high-quality service combined with their Middle Eastern hospitality will make your travel experience memorable.
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