DESIGNATION: Country Manager for Malaysia and Brunei, Qatar Airways Group.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Accountancy (Hons), Chartered Accountant (MIA).
BEST BUSINESS ADVICE: Always be transparent.
FAVOURITE TRAVELLING DESTINATIONS: “London and Paris. I have visited these places multiple times for work and leisure – and I never tire of them. There is a sense of familiarity in these two cities. If I’m not exploring, I usually enjoy having a cup of coffee at a café and watching the crowds. I feel safe in these cities, where public transportation is very convenient, halal food is readily available and there is no language barrier.”
Have you always been passionate about aviation?
My passion for the aviation industry began at a very young age. I studied in a boarding school in Kota Bharu for five years. It was located close to Sultan Ismail Petra Airport, which allowed us to tune in to the radio frequency used between the airport authority and the aircraft. I remember racing back to my dormitory just to listen in on the communications between the control tower and the pilots during take-offs and landings. Back in those days, the national carrier distributed flight timetables in a booklet and I would spend my spare time memorising all the details – flight numbers, aircraft types, arrival and departure times, flying hours, frequency, day of departure on all the destinations and so forth.
How did you get your start at Qatar Airways?
I am an accountant by profession and actually began my career in the hotel industry. I later moved into manufacturing before settling in property development and construction. In 2007, Malaysia Airlines put into effect its Business Turnaround Programme and I decided this was the perfect time for me to go into aviation. I spent 10 years there, working in various departments, before deciding to join Qatar Airways. After having travelled with various airlines in the past, I personally believe that Qatar Airways is the world’s best airline because they really pay attention to all those little details that help provide the best experience for the customers. I signed up with the company in 2016 and have not looked back since.
What are some of the milestones you are most proud of during your tenure at Qatar Airways?
The travelling landscape in Malaysia is highly competitive and very dynamic. There are over 50 foreign carriers that fly into Malaysia, which means plenty of choices for Malaysian travellers. But despite the intense competition, Qatar Airways registered double-digit growth in passenger travel over the past year, which is something that we are very proud of as it means the Malaysian market is becoming more aware of our product and choosing to fly with us. We’ve put a lot of effort into increasing our brand awareness in Malaysia, and the market is becoming increasingly aware that we fly 21 times weekly out of Kuala Lumpur to more than 150 key business and leisure destinations, and that our fares are competitive against other airlines. I am also happy to note that we have earned many loyal customers, which is a testament to the acceptance and preference of Qatar Airways by our passengers after their first flight on us.
What’s next on your travel calendar?
When it comes to working for an airline, I am definitely spoilt for choice in terms of travelling destinations. Qatar Airways currently flies to over 150 destinations across six continents, including Eastern Europe and Africa – and I would love to explore these places by visiting their souqs, immersing myself in the cultural and historical aspects of Marrakech, to visit the beautiful Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque with its glass-stained kaleidoscopic interior in Shiraz, and to see the natural wonders around Zagreb.
How do you usually make the most of a spare afternoon in an unfamiliar city?
I enjoy exploring new places and always make it a point to plan all my trips ahead of time. This includes researching about places to stay and visit, things to eat, travel arrangements… anything and everything! Once I finally arrive, I will arm myself with this list and get a local city map before taking the nearest public transport to explore the city. Sometimes, I will catch a ride on a hop-on/hop-off tour bus to get a condensed overview of what the city has to offer. If there’s anything that interests me along the way, I will do more research before scheduling a return visit.
What has been your most memorable travelling experience to date?
It would have to be my very first Business Class experience while flying on Qatar Airways. The airline truly pays attention to every single detail – from the dimly lit cabin that relaxes your senses while boarding a night flight to the Oryx logo located on the metal head of our seatbelts. Qatar Airways is also one of the few airlines that provide pyjamas for its Business Class passengers. Dining onboard is just as wonderful of an experience, thanks to our ‘Dine on Demand ‘concept that allows you to choose when to dine and in what order you would like to have your meal served. The service is just impeccable as the cabin crew is very attentive without being intrusive. Although nothing extraordinary happened during the trip, it was nevertheless a memorable journey that made me decide that I wanted to work at Qatar Airways.
What is the best part about travelling with Qatar Airways?
Qatar Airways is at the forefront of the aviation industry and we focus on the entire passenger experience. With Qatar Airways, you can travel with peace of mind knowing that the airline has gone above and beyond in our efforts to provide an exceptional experience for all our passengers at all touch points. It is truly an experience worth discovering.
What other exciting experiences from Qatar Airways that we can all look forward to in the near future?
Qatar Airways is continuously growing – we currently have 200 aircrafts, with more than 300 planes on order. This year, we have launched new flights to Dublin, Nice, Skopje and Prague. We are all geared up to meet and exceed the expectations of air travellers, and our passengers can expect continued innovations to provide them with an exceptional experience onboard all Qatar Airways flights.