Qatar Airways transported more than 70,000 tonnes of medical equipment and aid relief, in addition to carrying in excess of 1mn passengers in recent weeks.
The national carrier is thus ensuring it is a reliable partner for passengers, governments, travel trade and freight companies in extremely challenging circumstances.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge for Qatar Airways and the aviation industry as a whole. While the airline continues to maintain operations where possible to take people home and to transport essential supplies, overall demand for air transport has declined significantly.
Passenger operations: Since mid-February, Qatar Airways has helped reunite over 1mn on passengers with their loved ones, operating a mix of scheduled and charter services plus extra sectors. In the past several weeks, the airline has helped repatriate over 45,000 passengers back home to France, 70,000 home to Germany and over 100,000 customers back to the United Kingdom.
Working with governments and group travel companies around the world, the airline operated over 90 charters and extra sector flights taking home over 26,000 stranded travellers.
The demand to help get stranded travellers home has also seen Qatar Airways operate flights to new destinations such as Brisbane, Christchurch and Toronto.
The national carrier continues to operate approximately 60 scheduled flights a day to around 40 destinations and is working closely with embassies across the globe to arrange charters to repatriate stranded citizens.
Cargo operations: With global air freight capacity declining, Qatar Airways Cargo has increased operations to ensure the continuity of global trade and movement of essential medical and aid supplies.
The airline continues to operate a significant cargo schedule with almost 100 flights per day. During the past month the cargo operator has worked closely with governments and NGOs to transport over 70,000 tonnes of medical and aid supplies to impacted regions around the world on both scheduled and charter services, the equivalent of roughly 500 fully loaded Boeing 777 freighters.
To continue to fulfil demand the Group’s cargo division is also utilising passenger aircraft to carry freight — only to destinations in China, Europe, India and the Middle East.
Staff solidarity programme: The airline has been working diligently to reduce or defer costs where possible. The airline recently worked with staff to implement a ‘Solidarity Programme’ that would see mid-level and above Doha-based staff defer a portion of their basic salary.
For mid-level employees and above, the basic monthly salary will be subject to a 50% deferral. This temporary measure is expected to last for three months, starting from April 2020. The position will be kept under review depending on the economic situation.
Qatar Airways Group chief executive HE Akbar al-Baker said, “The entire team at Qatar Airways has worked incredibly hard to take people home over the past few weeks. We have built a strong level of trust with our passengers, governments, travel trade and cargo businesses as a reliable partner when we were needed the most and we continue to offer a schedule where possible and allowed by governments.
“We also introduced an employee pay deferral scheme, which the company will credit back as soon as possible when circumstances allow. Many other work groups overseas and across all job levels have also offered to take voluntary salary deferrals in solidarity with their colleagues, reinforcing the fact that the Qatar Airways Group family is one who has the best interests of each other and the airline at heart.
“I know many of our Qatar Airways employees have left family and friends at home to commit to building this airline with me and we will always do what is in the best interest of both the business and our committed and hard-working staff. I could not be more proud of our team who have worked incredibly hard to build even greater trust with the travelling public.”
Safeguarding passengers and staff: As an airline, Qatar Airways maintains the highest possible hygiene standards, which include the regular disinfection of aircraft, the use of cleaning products recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and thermal screening of crew.
In addition, Qatar Airways’ aircraft feature the most advanced air filtration systems, equipped with industrial-size HEPA filters that remove 99.97% of viral and bacterial contaminants from re-circulated air, providing the most effective protection against infection.
All the airline’s onboard linen and blankets are washed, dried and pressed at microbial lethal temperatures, while its headsets are removed of ear foams and rigorously sanitised after each flight. These items are then sealed into individual packaging by staff wearing hygienic disposable gloves.
Qatar Aircraft Catering Company (QACC) was the first organisation in the world last year to achieve ISO22000:2018 certification from Bureau Veritas with UKAS accreditation, confirming its Food Safety Management System meets the highest standards. All meal service utensils and cutlery are washed with detergents and rinsed with demineralised fresh water at temperatures that kill pathogenic bacteria. All sanitised equipment is handled by staff wearing hygienic disposable gloves.
Hamad International Airport (HIA) is also robustly minimising any risks to the health and safety of passengers and staff. As a vital pillar to Qatar’s national economy, HIA’s doors remain open as it continues its operations to take people home to their family through Doha, and to ensure food security of Qatar through cargo.
HIA has implemented stringent cleaning procedures and closed most of the non-essential passenger facilities. All passenger touchpoints are sanitised every 10-15 minutes. All boarding gates and bus gate counters are cleaned after each flight.
Staff working at the airport have been provided additional training in terms of protecting themselves and others in light of the current situation and implementing the highest health and safety measurements. In addition, hand sanitisers are provided at immigration and security screening points.
A social distancing policy has been implemented at the airport, and staff are allowed to wear masks and disposable gloves to protect them from any infection. All staff are briefed to change their masks in line with WHO recommendations.