Senior Manager, Global Sponsorships, CSR and In-Flight Entertainment/Connectivity
Babar is responsible for driving global sponsorships, community relations and in-flight entertainment strategies at Qatar Airways. Under his leadership, the airline relaunched its IFE system, enhanced content selection, introduced connectivity and launched the region’s first onboard Wi-Fi sponsorship. He is also a member on APEX’s Board of Directors.
Years in the industry: 15
Brand of suitcase: Tumi
Passport stamp you wish you had: New Zealand
Favorite social network: LinkedIn
Every job has a cool factor. What’s yours?
Being able to contribute creatively. Not being afraid to think outside the box has resulted in several key initiatives for the airline, some of which include our next-generation in-flight entertainment (IFE) graphical user interface (GUI), the Oryx One IFE app and becoming the first airline in our region to launch broadband connectivity on board.
What differentiates Oryx One from other systems?
It’s easy to navigate and driven by content – it basically changes every month, so there is always a fresh look. We entirely reprogrammed the way our channels are categorized for ease of use, creating special collection categories (like “Marvel Movies,” “TED Talks,” and “Love-Is-in-the-Air”), which was very well received by our passengers. We also introduced the Oryx One IFE app, which offers passengers a wide array of digital newspapers and magazines for free.
The introduction of near-field communication (NFC) will bring further enhancements, so watch this space.
How can NFC personalize the IFE experience?
The majority of our latest fleet, including aircraft with our premium Qsuite product, is fitted with NFC technology. Passengers can create playlists on the ground and enable them on board from their seats, allowing for greater ease of content selection and a personalized IFE experience.
“Fast broadband will enable our passengers to use social media, watch their favorite program, shop and Google away in an uninterrupted environment.”
Why is connectivity important to the passenger experience?
It offers an opportunity for live experiential storytelling. Abundant and fast broadband on board will enable our passengers to use social media, finish watching their favorite television program, shop and Google away in an uninterrupted environment.
What do you think is the most overlooked aspect of the passenger experience?
The airport – the journey starts there. The best airports will not only offer a seamless travel experience, but also build a relationship with passengers by offering a comfortable and relaxed environment. This will not only generate repeat customers for the airport, but also for the airlines (particularly the hub airline).
What’s something that never ceases to amaze you in the industry?
How far behind seatback technology is compared to the developments in technology on the ground. Change is not easy. To make a small technological enhancement on board, it takes an immense amount of effort and time, in addition to being a massive expense.
If you could sit next to anyone on a plane, who would it be?
Elon Musk. I admire his resilient goal-focused and forward-thinking strategy to ensure technology is not limited to basic uses, but enhanced for the betterment of the human race. He has become quite a disruptor in ground transportation, and I am eager to see what he brings next (perhaps to the air?).
“APEX in Profile: Babar Rahman” was originally published in the 8.2 April/May issue of APEX Experience magazine.