The big three Gulf airlines – Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways are masters of self-promotion. They know exactly how to put on a big show and they’ll do everything to gain some publicity and brand recognition.
And who can blame them… The fierce rivals need to do everything in their power to stand out from one another. After all, they offer broadly similar services, fly to the same destinations and connect people through their hubs in the same small region of the world.
The Persian Gulf carriers have invested so much in building their brands and now the competition is fiercer than ever. For its part, Qatar Airways is still reeling from its country’s diplomatic ousting by close Gulf nations. Over in Abu Dhabi, Etihad is trying to differentiate itself from big sister, Emirates. And that’s no easy feat.
So when one of these airlines launches a new route, it offers itself up perfectly for some media attention. But this is 2017 – who needs to rely on newspapers anymore? These airlines are forging social media presences with millions of followers. And this being the YouTube generation, what better place to promote your airline.
Over the last few weeks, a proxy war has broken out between Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways. Who can create the best video to celebrate (and advertise) your airline’s new route? So, just for fun, we’ve rated the latest marketing offerings from the big three Gulf airline’s – who will come out on top?
Inaugural flight: Dublin, Republic of Ireland (12th June)
Qatar Airways kicked off this series of inaugural flight launches on the 12th June with its new non-stop service between Doha and Dublin. The airline has actually come quite late to the party – Etihad has been flying to the Irish capital way back since 2007 and Emirates started serving the Irish capital in 2012. But that wasn’t going to let Qatar Airways take the shine off its new route.
On the day, the airline decided to show off its brand new Airbus A350 aircraft even though going forwards a Boeing 787 Dreamliner will instead be used on the route. Apparently, it was an opportunity to allow VIP guests and key media the opportunity to tour the state-of-the-art aircraft.
Inaugural flight: Nice, France (15th July 2017)
Despite being put back by a week or so (the airline originally intended to launch the service on 4th July), the inaugural flight landed in beautifully sunny conditions. Qatar Airways will also be using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner on its new service to Nice on the Cote d’Azur. The airline will operate flights between the French city and Doha five times per week.
Production: Talk about a slick production. Qatar Airways clearly spent a bit of money on these two videos. This is a statement and it’s a well executed one at that.
Cinematography: Aerial footage? Check. Cockpit view? Check. Sweeping vistas? Check. These two videos have it all.
Music: It’s a stirring piece of music which suddenly makes you marvel again at the wonder that is flight.
Overall: Okay, where’s my credit card? I’m gonna go book my Qatar Airways flights to Dublin and Nice right now.
Inaugural flight: Nice, France (01st July 2017)
So this wasn’t a new route launch (Emirates has been flying to Nice for some time with its Boeing 777 aircraft) but this was the inaugural flight using an Airbus A380. Unsurprisingly, Emirates is the only airline flying to Nice with such a large aircraft – Apparently to “serve the strong customer demand”.
It brings the total number of Global destinations served by an Emirates A380 to 47 and will help offer “a seamless Emirates A380 experience” for more connecting customers.
Inaugural flight: Phnom Penh, Cambodia (2nd July 2017)
Looking for expansion into South East Asia, Emirates has opted for a circular route via Yangon in Myanmar to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. According to the airline, this is the first time since 2014 that Yangon and Phnom Penh have had a direct air link. The new daily service will be operated by a Boeing 777 aircraft.
Production: This bears all the hallmarks of an in-house production team. Not a bad effort but even at 40 seconds long apiece, these two videos seemed to be dragging on.
Cinematography: Plenty of camera angles and the obligatory water cannon salute. It was made on a budget – but it wasn’t a small one.
Music: Nothing racy here. In fact, ever so slightly dull.
Overall: It’s not a bad effort, I suppose. More infomercial than commercial.
Inaugural flight: Paris, France (2nd July 2017)
Going head to head with Emirates’ Phnom Penh route launch, Etihad had the inaugural flight for its upgraded Airbus A380 service from Abu Dhabi to the French capital, Paris. The double decker super jumbo will be replacing a Boeing 777 aircraft on one of the airline’s double daily services until 28th October.
The A380 will then return to Paris between 5th December to 15th February 2018 and finally operate a year-round service from 25th March 2018.
Production: If it wasn’t for the outside landing footage, this video could have been filmed by a passenger sat in economy.
Cinematography: They’ve used stock footage of an Etihad A380 in flight – that’s just cheating.
Music: It’s very stirring and emotional – it’s just a shame the pictures don’t do the music justice.
Overall: Maybe Etihad didn’t realise the competition they were up against? It doesn’t exactly inspire but at it only lasts 39 seconds.
And the winner is…
Qatar Airways have pulled it out the bag on this one. Definitly the clear winners – on self promotion at the very least.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.