Interview – Theresa Cissell: ‘Qatar Airways Aims to Boost Tourism Growth in Greece’
By Nikos Krinis
Qatar Airways in December officially announced the appointment of Theresa Janet Cissell as its new Country Manager for Greece and Cyprus.
Considered a key executive for the airline, Ms. Cissell has been working at Qatar Airways for the last 16 years and her selection for the position is taken as an investment, that further highlights the emphasis put by Qatar Airways in its operations in this region.
Her experience and course in important positions within the airline such as Commercial Manager Cyprus, Area Manager Oman, Business Development and Performance Manager Arabian Peninsula and Iran, is expected to play a crucial role to the further improvement of Qatar Airways’ status and expand the company’s vision and strategic goals in the market.
In the new position, Ms. Cissell will be responsible for the representation and the general coordination, as well as the development of Qatar Airways’ operations in the Greek market. The Cypriot market will also be under the new Country Manager’s supervision.
Qatar Airways offers three daily direct flights from Athens to Hamad International Airport in Doha and two flights per day from the airport of Larnaca. Passengers can benefit from an extensive travel network of over 150 exciting destinations worldwide.
We aim to increase our contribution towards tourism growth in Greece by making it a preferred destination for our customers globally through marketing initiatives….” – Theresa Cissell
- GTP: Your last assignment prior to Greece was Cyprus. How challenging is the addition of the Greek market to your responsibilities?
Theresa Cissell: The Greek market has indeed its own peculiarities; however the mentality between the two markets is quite similar, therefore the approach will not change dramatically. Our focus is to continue providing seamless connectivity for passengers on key destinations from/to Athens such as China, Philippines, Australia, South Africa, America and to grow tourism in both markets. We will continue to work closely with our associates to achieve this common goal.
- GTP: 2016 was Qatar Airways’ 11th year of presence in the Athens market. What milestones have been achieved?
Theresa Cissell: We have been lucky to grow in such a dynamic market and expand our presence over the past 11 years. Qatar Airways started its operation in 2005 with four weekly flights and within five years increased to two daily. In June 2015, the Athens route welcomed an additional flight, providing three convenient connections per day to local travelers. The growth in Athens, if compared to neighboring countries, has been staggering.
- GTP: How much has Qatar Airways invested in Athens and how profitable has the market been for the airline?
Theresa Cissell:Since 2005, Qatar Airways has reported significant growth in Greece, making us one of the most prominent Middle East carriers in the market. The increased frequency between Athens and Doha is a strong proof of our investment in the route development and of our support towards growth of the local tourism; this is achieved by providing travelers from Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia easier access to/from Greece.
- GTP: How much scope for expansion does the airline see for more Athens service?
Theresa Cissell: Qatar Airways always strives to offer new and exclusive services to travelers and our Athens route is no exception. With current three daily flights we provide seamless connectivity to our entire network of over 150 destinations. Further enhancements will be seen in 2017-18 towards exciting new destinations such as Canberra, Rio de Janeiro, Las Vegas, Santiago and leisure destinations Chang Mai, Krabi and Auckland for both Cyprus and Greece residents.
GTP: What are your strategies for 2017 concerning Athens?
Theresa Cissell: We will continue growing tourism and trade connections to/from Athens to potential markets and aligning our strategies with those of our key partners. In addition to this, growth in premium and economy travel on the Athens route remains our key focus. It is vital for us to attract tourism from our global network to visit Greece and experience the dynamic culture not only during summer but year round.
GTP: Where do Qatar Airways’ clients travel to from Athens?
Theresa Cissell: Doha is quite a popular destination for the local market, mainly amongst business travelers. With the recent introduction of the 96 hours transit visa by Qatar Tourism board, our passengers are provided with an option to stopover in Qatar and experience the Arabian hospitality. Also, Melbourne is a popular destination for Greece, due to the Greek community residing there and because of the strong ties between Australia and Greece.
- GTP: Back in 2012 Qatar Airways had announced daily direct flights between Athens and New York, but the route never came through. What options do Greek travellers have to fly to New York with Qatar Airways?
Theresa Cissell: While it is true that there is no direct link between Athens and New York with Qatar Airways, passengers from Athens have seen increased travel options recently to this destination. We now offer double daily flights to JFK from Doha including a service on the brand new airbus A350, that connects conveniently with our triple daily service from Athens to Doha.
- GTP: What does Qatar Airways see in the future for Athens?
Theresa Cissell: Our vision for the market is to continue and offer more of our award-winning services, expand the travel choices for local travelers and, eventually, increase passenger volumes. We aim to increase our contribution towards tourism growth in Greece by making it a preferred destination for our customers globally through marketing initiatives. We will continue strengthening our ties with local trade partners, employ local resources and grow our market share.
- GTP: Have the airline’s routes encouraged better trade links between Greece and Qatar?
Theresa Cissell: We are proud to say that we have contributed significantly towards building better and stronger relations between the two countries. Qatar Airways cooperates closely with local business associations and Governmental authorities, in both countries. We provide opportunities for local business owners to conveniently travel and enhance presence in a rapidly growing country.
- GTP: Qatar Airways won ‘World’s Best Business Class’ at the 2016 Skytrax World Airline Awards. What does the airline offer in terms of business class services?
Theresa Cissell: We are honored by this distinction. Our Business Class product offers an unparalleled travel experience. Passengers can enjoy ultra-spacious cabin, exclusive inflight dining experience created by world renowned chefs, over 3,000 different entertainment options in both cabins and Giorgio Armani Beauty and Fragrances amenity kits on long haul flights. The service continues with the on ground hospitality in Qatar Airways dedicated Business Class Lounge at Hamad International Airport in Doha, one of the largest and award winning lounges in the world, where guests can enjoy unique dining options and spaces such as family rooms & quiet rooms and a dedicated games room with a Formula 1 simulator for young travelers
- GTP: In March 2016, Qatar Airways announced a network expansion of new destinations. Can you give our readers a “sneak preview” as to what to expect from the airline in the near future?
Theresa Cissell: Indeed, one of the main goals for Qatar Airways is to offer passengers more travel choices around the world each year. In 2017-18, the 15 new destinations joining the Qatar Airways’ route network, which spans more than 150 destinations on six continents around the world, are: Canberra, Dublin, Las Vegas, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Medan, Tabuk, Yanbu, Auckland, Sarajevo, Skopje, Libreville, Nice, Chiang Mai, and Douala.
This interview originally appeared in GTP’s January-February 2017 print edition.