Small country in a
Singapore and the Singapore Airlines story?
No. It's Qatar and Qatar Airways.
While many Singaporeans probably cannot point out Qatar on the map to save their lives, the Qataris have their sights on not just replicating but surpassing Singapore's success story.
Their determination is showcased on the shores of the resort island of Sentosa (of all places). At a yet-to-be-opened theme park for children called KidZania Singapore, you will find a mock airliner in Qatar Airways colours. You can't miss it as the nose of the aircraft pokes out of the side of the building.
When KidZania opens for business this April, children will be able to run around the aisles of the mock airliner to role play passengers or crew.
The staging of mock jobs in an airline and other businesses at KidZania Singapore transplants the theme park's business model that has proven successful in delighting thousands of children and their caregivers around the globe.
The interesting tidbit about Qatar Airways is this: Singapore Airlines was the first carrier that KidZania approached. Alas, nothing materialised from these overtures.
By planting their flag on Sentosa, Qatar Airways is taking a brave leap away from the guiding principles of corporate branding. Few luxe brands would leave their brand identity in the hands of a third party. The use of corporate colours is also rigorously controlled by marketing types who fret over fine details like the pantone code, typeface, the prominence and positioning of one's corporate logo etc etc.
Qatar Airways does it differently.
Qatar Airways has basically paid to have the nose of a mock airplane poke out of a garishly-painted building on Sentosa, with the Qatar Airways paint scheme exposed to the elements. Will it fade and degrade over time and position QR's flightless bird in a sorry state? Who knows?
In the meantime, the Qataris are only too pleased with their presence at KidZania Singapore.
Qatar Airways group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Akbar Al Baker, told TTG Asia:"We are delighted to be here, to showcase our brand and be part of the growth of the vision of our kids. We are here to help KidZania educate children, especially in the field of aviation. The brand of Qatar present in the backyard of Singapore Airlines is also very important to us."
The determination to forge ahead of the pack in the cut-throat airlines business is plainly evident from the QR CEO's interview with The Straits Times on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow 2016.
"You previously said Qatar is better than Singapore Airlines? Do you think the gap has closed or widened?" asked the ST scribe.
The reply:"We will never allow the gap to close. They (SQ) will have to (play catch-up). Qatar Airways is constantly raising the bar by far, in a big way."
To be sure, the money QR invested in the children's theme park is probably just one arm of its multi-year multi-project effort at being primus inter pares.
By moving quickly to fill the void at KidZania while SQ dilly-dallied, Qatar Airways has demonstrated some of the attributes that has enabled Singapore Inc. to blossom on the world stage: Boldness. Vision. Ambition to settle for nothing less than being the world's best.
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