Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at big shifts in busy Gulf airports, Booking Holdings' AI innovations, and family matters at Loews Hotels

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, November 1. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

The Middle East continues to be one of the fastest-changing travel markets in the world. Take the story of Air Arabia, which did not even serve Abu Dhabi, home of Etihad Airways, before the pandemic hit. Today, the budget airline is the second largest at the United Arab Emirates hub, and a symbol of the shift underway at some of the Gulf’s busiest airports, writes Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

FlyDubai, Flynas, IndiGo, and Wizz Air, along with Air Arabia, have all participated in a dramatic share shift to low-cost carriers in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and — to a lesser extent — Doha. The three cities are the largest airline hubs in the Gulf and traditionally the domains of legacy network carriers Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways, respectively.

A new analysis from OAG finds that budget airlines have expanded their share of seats in all three hubs since 2019. The biggest shift has occurred in Abu Dhabi where discounters have gained nearly 19 points of the market for a 25 percent share this year.

Next up, more innovation in online travel. Booking Holdings is hiring rapidly at its new engineering office in Bengaluru, India, to work on new projects such as how to verify guest identification with machine learning and new products such as alternative forms of international payment to traditional credit and debit cards, writes Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.

The parent company of has about 20 employees at its tech center now but expects to ramp that up to about 100 by year-end, according to The Times of India. The business unit will work on how to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to better manage risks and hassles in travel transactions.

The company wants to verify IDs such as passports and driving licenses by linking the company to sources of identification data and using artificial intelligence and machine learning to scan these and verify identities automatically.

We finish up with Loews Corporation, which is keeping it all in the family. The parent company of Loews Hotels said that on January 1 Alex Tisch will become president and CEO of its chain of 25 luxury properties, succeeding his cousin once removed Jon Tisch, who will become executive chairman and remain co-chairman of the board.

Hospitality editor O’Neill writes that Alex, a fourth-generation member of the family, joined Loews Hotels in 2017 and was named president in September 2020. He has sped up Loews Hotels’ growth by adding properties, including an 800-room property in Kansas City, Missouri, and developing key partnerships in Arlington, Texas. Alex also helped to boost the metabolism of its commercial group, the company said.


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Tags: abu dhabi, booking holdings, loews hotels, skift podcast

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