Good quality nevertheless
Does low price mean poor service? Not necessarily. Rehab Saad
finds out on board Hapagfly what a low-price flight offers
One of the main obstacles facing travellers and one that has a big say on travel decisions is expenses: flight fares, hotel accommodations, transportation, food and drinks. Hotels all over the world offer lucrative rates to attract as many holidaymakers as possible. Now it is the airlines' turn to try to guarantee a fair share of the market by offering low ticket prices.
The idea of having low cost airlines that offer low price trips is not something new in Europe or the US but it is new in Egypt and the Arab world in general. We in Egypt and the Arab world often believe that the word "low price" might indicate a low quality product -- bad food or lousy service come to mind. However, since last year some low cost airlines began focussing on Egypt and the rest of the Arab world to market themselves aggressively in the region so as to attract as many passengers as possible with unbeatable rates.
Hapagfly, a leading German holiday carrier offering low price trips, started its business in Egypt last winter launching its three weekly non-stop Cairo-Munich flights every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On Thursdays a Boeing 737-800 flies to Hanover after a brief stopover in the Bavarian Capital. Hapagfly also provides options for reasonably priced connecting flights with Lufthansa and DBA to all German airports.
"With the thrice-weekly schedule and the connecting flights to all destinations in Germany we are offering a very attractive product to Egyptian business travellers as well as holidaymakers from the Orient," said Dieter Farber, marketing and flight-only sales manager. Farber added that starting November, a weekly flight from Cairo to Stuttgart will be added to the schedule. Hapagfly, owned by TUI AG, operates five Airbus A310 and 31 Boeing 737-800 with seats totalling 7,200 that transported 7.1 million passengers in 2004 to sunny destinations around the Mediterranean, to the Red Sea and the Black Sea as well as to the Canary Islands and Madeira.
Despite the fact that Hapagfly is offering low prices, the facilities offered on board are that of a first class air carrier. The food, for instance, is fresh and delicious. Our breakfast consisted of a hot steak with mushroom sauce and an aromatic omelet, traditional German bread, white cheese, jam, butter and yoghurt in addition to juices, tea and coffee. On my way back, lunch was a fine assortment of cold cuts and fine desserts, bread and refreshments.
The service on board is professional and friendly and entertainment options are varied such as in-flight TV, flight magazine, radio programmes including a kids channel and a range of daily newspapers. But what then makes the price low while the service is first class? Increasing the number of seats on board to accommodate a larger number of passengers is one explanation. Decreasing the company's overhead and resorting to on-line bookings are two other ways of keeping expenses down. Even the constant increase in fuel prices does not affect the low price concept of the company. Hapagfly officials say that 80 per cent of the fuel they use is hedged, a method that is being adopted by all world airlines. Hedging means that they purchase their need in advance at a fixed price and thus avoid any fluctuations in future fuel prices.
The price for the return ticket with Hapagfly on the Cairo- Munich route starts at LE1,555. Cairo to Hanover and back can be had for as little as LE1,434. Children get a discount of 33 per cent and babies fly for LE240. A fee for making a change to a booking is LE480 and cancellations cost LE800. Hapagfly offers flexible outbound and return tickets for business travellers featuring free amendments to booking and cancellations for LE3,786 on the Cairo Munich route. Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin, Stuttgart and many other German cities can be reached via connecting flights with Lufthansa and DBA that cost from LE940 upwards. Cairo is not the only departure airport for Hapagfly. There are also Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, Luxor and Marsa Alam.
For more information log on to www.hapagfly.comwww.hapagfly.com/p>