Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free introduce ‘revolutionary’ use of Avios

Pioneering payments system: From today, Avios can be used at almost 200 outlets at Hamad International Airport, including in stores throughout the spectacular new expansion, opened in November

QATAR. In an industry first, from today (24 January) members of Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club can collect and spend Avios at almost 200 outlets at Hamad International Airport in partnership with Qatar Duty Free.

Avios is the reward currency of Qatar Airways Privilege Club and preferred currency of the airline. Avios can be used in conjunction with cash, offering a part-payment option.

In another innovation, passengers at all departure points will be rewarded with Avios points upon check-in. These will be credited up to 120 minutes before flight departure, allowing Privilege Club members to collect and spend Avios at HIA.

Avios can be used in a wide list list of luxury fashion outlets and dining options at the airport. As reported, Hamad International Airport recently launched a major expansion which features a luxury shopping hub called ‘The Orchard’, set in a tropical garden with a range of one-of-a-kind brand offerings.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive His Excellency Akbar Al Baker stated: “We have enhanced and upgraded our redemption options for our loyalty members and we are enabling access to a truly unique airport shopping and dining experience.

“A first in the world initiative, this demonstrates our commitment for going the extra mile when enhancing the quality of our offerings by providing members with seamless services and an extended shopping and dining experience at Hamad International Airport with up to 200 fashion and food & beverage outlets. We encourage everyone travelling through HIA to avail themselves of this experience and opportunity as there has never been an easier way to collect and spend Avios.”

The famous Lamp Bear at HIA, a landmark within the commercial arena

Speaking to The Moodie Davitt Report, Qatar Duty Free Vice President Thabet Musleh said, “For us, this is huge. Avios will become potentially the preferred currency now at Qatar Duty Free. Just like cash, Visa, MasterCard and Amex, Avios will become a currency.

“It will also be huge in how we tie the brands in, in terms of special offers and exclusive products. Probably over 40 million people will be coming through our doors this year, so that is a huge reach.”

Avios are collected when loyalty members or their nominated family members fly with Qatar Airways, oneworld airlines, plus QR’s airline partners. Avios can also be collected with more than 100 global partners and co-branded payment cards.

This initiative is a brilliantly savvy way of bringing together the airline, airport and retailer/F&B provider ecosystem – a new kind of industry Trinity if you like, writes Martin Moodie. The fact that Qatar Airways, Hamad International Airport and Qatar Duty Free all reside under common ownership already lent a strong sense of common purpose between what in most countries would be three disparate aviation sector stakeholders focused on self-interest.

Now that common purpose is being leveraged to an unprecedented extent through the latent but so often untapped power of airline points, in this case Avios. By being able to access their Avios so quickly and then spend it, consumers will have a whole new discretionary spending power at their fingertips.

The system will benefit all three parties in different but overlapping ways. It will not only engender loyalty towards usage of Qatar Airways – and by extension Hamad International Airport – but will encourage spending across Qatar Duty Free’s vast shopping and food & beverage footprint.

The potential to marry the system to tailored exclusives, special F&B offers and much more is considerable, spelling a potentially game-changing increase in penetration and spend.

During the darkest days of the pandemic, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker focused relentlessly on being the airline that “will get you home”. As a result the Doha-based carrier flew more miles than other airline during the period (much to the benefit of Qatar Duty Free which, outside of Hainan, offered one of travel retail’s few bright spots) through 2020 and 2021. That won Qatar Airways a lot of friends around the world.

Having created that sense of loyalty, Qatar Airways is determined to keep it. The concept, beautiful in its simplicity, is also revolutionary. ✈

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