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Tue 5 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Dnata maps out expansion trail for ‘08

Dnata is preparing to roll out a couple of "major projects" in 2008 as the company looks to expand its presence in the GCC and beyond.

Dnata maps out expansion trail for ‘08
HAVALDAR: Dnata has big plans for 2008.

Dnata is preparing to roll out a couple of "major projects" in 2008 as the company looks to expand its presence in the GCC and beyond.

Speaking as the Dubai-based travel company prepares to open the doors to its first travel services office in Doha and having just opened its first Abu Dhabi branch, the firm's head of regional business and MMI Travel, Pradeep Havaldar, told ATN that more developments were "in the pipeline" and would "come to fruition" by the end of the year.

"I have taken on this role quite recently and so I am reviewing the options available, but we will obviously be expanding in markets that show the potential for requiring professional travel services," he said.

Expansion is not limited to the GCC said Havaldar - indeed, last year, Dnata Agencies senior vice president Iain Andrew told ATN that "some of the ‘stans' are interesting", referring to Kazakhstan as one particular example.

"We will look at India, Egypt and some other major markets around the region," he added.

Havaldar said although many markets were already saturated with travel service providers, Dnata stood out in a crowd because it had "a competitive edge".

"This is one industry where there is more supply than demand, but we invest in our people and our technology and continue to offer innovative services to the client; that's the difference," he explained to ATN.

He said markets that Dnata entered would also benefit from the company's experience. In Doha, for example, where flag carrier Qatar Airways has recently introduced 0% commission, many agencies are struggling to adapt their business models, whereas Dnata already has management fee systems in place.

"Markets benefit from our exchange in best practice between offices," Havaldar also noted.

He was speaking to ATN as Dubai-based luxury hospitality management company Jumeirah International, announced that it had appointed Dnata Saudi Travel Agency to conduct sales and marketing services on its behalf in the Kingdom.

The strategic move is in line with Jumeirah's plans to grow its portfolio of luxury hotels, both regionally and internationally to 57 by 2011.

Havaldar said Dnata would pitch the Jumeirah brand to KSA's burgeoning corporate and leisure markets and revealed that he was on the lookout to seal partnerships with similar like-minded travel-related brands.

"Not necessary hotels, but services that fit with our brand and what we offer; we don't want to confuse the customer," he said.

"[Representing] brands such as Jumeirah makes sense - it is a good brand fit.

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