Low cost does not mean low quality

The low cost concept has taken longer to penetrate the Middle East travel industry than other markets across the globe. Although new airlines such as Sharjah-based Air Arabia and Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways have led the way, both the trade and consumers are taking their time to accept what low cost travel actually means.

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By  Gemma Hornett Published  August 27, 2006

|~|Gemma-large.gif|~||~|The low cost concept has taken longer to penetrate the Middle East travel industry than other markets across the globe. Although new airlines such as Sharjah-based Air Arabia and Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways have led the way, both the trade and consumers are taking their time to accept what low cost travel actually means. This became apparent during my recent conversation with a Deira-based travel agent who asked me several bemusing questions about Air Arabia: “Does it have toilets on board? Is there any food at all? Is it safe to fly?” he quizzed me. The answers are yes, yes and definitely yes! I have flown with Air Arabia twice – once to Lebanon and on the inaugural flight to Jaipur – and on both occasions I was very impressed with the service, safety procedures and the aircraft, which compared favourably to ‘high cost’ airlines. The airline operates brand new Airbus A320s, one of the few low-cost airlines to do so. Seat pitch is a roomy 31 inches and there are toilets at the front and the back of the aircraft. Food can be bought on board at a reasonable price and there is even in-flight entertainment. Low cost does not necessarily mean low quality; it simply means that the guest is given more choices. If you want food, you pay for it. If you want entertainment, you buy the headphones. You book online, you save admin costs and you get a cheaper price. Safety is not compromised and in my experience the flights are on-schedule. This message needs to be drilled into consumers and the trade in this region who are reluctant to resist change. Travel agents in particular need to embrace the low cost concept because travellers are becoming increasingly cost conscious and travel savvy. A medley of no-frills hotel chains are preparing to bombard the GCC and yes, they will have beds, a bathroom, workstations, in-room mini bars, fitness facilities and even WiFi, in order to cater to the customer who is driven by convenience and value-for-money. Why pay extortionate room rates at city hotels when a low cost hotel provides all the comfort and facilities you require?||**||

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