As many airlines have grounded or repurposed passenger fleets due to travel restrictions and low demand, Qatar Airways has managed to maintain relatively high levels of activity in the sector.
Qatar Airways Group has released an official operations update to this end, detailing passenger activity across the network.
The company has aggressively targeted the repatriation market, and claims to have “carried over 1 million people home” since February. Like many other airlines, it has also increased emphasis on the cargo space, having “transported over 70,000 tonnes of medical equipment and aid relief” in that same period.
Europe has been particularly hard-hit by the virus, and repatriation efforts in recent weeks have seen:
- 45,000 passengers returned to France;
- 70,000 to Germany; and
- 100,000 to the UK.
Demand for direct repatriation (and lack of competitors) has seen Qatar Airways operate new flight routes. These include major destinations such as Brisbane, Christchurch, and Toronto.
Over 90 charter and extra sector flights have returned 26,000 stranded customers.
Qatar Airways group chief executive 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.”
Like many of its competitors, the group has refurbished passenger aircraft to run freight-only flights. Qatar’s cargo division now operates these flights to destinations in China, Europe, India and the Middle East.
Qatar’s operation update also details the company’s “Staff Solidarity Programme”. Under the terms of the agreement, mid-level and above staff based at the airline’s headquarters in Doha will defer 50 per cent of their basic salary. This temporary program is expected to last for three months; however, the airline says that this will be “kept under review”.
“We also introduced an employee pay deferral scheme which the company will credit salary back as soon as possible when circumstances allow,” said Al Baker.
“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.”