Qatar Airways continues to take firm steps in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). The airline’s robust measures include amending its flight schedule, working with governments to take people home, and introducing new policies to ensure the health and safety of staff, and maintaining its vital cargo operations.
In addition, the airline continues to support the State of Qatar’s efforts to manage the coronavirus outbreak, and has acquired and transported 500,000 test kits, which will arrive in Doha today, and will donate these to local health services.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “At Qatar Airways we continue to work hard to take people home to their families, while also ensuring robust health and safety practices to limit the spread of coronavirus.
“We are adjusting our flight schedules on a daily basis, and since the outbreak of the virus we have stepped up our already robust hygiene practices. In these efforts, we do not work alone – I am grateful for the support we have received from local and national governments and entities, whom we are working in close partnership to overcome this pandemic.”
Flight schedules and bookings
Qatar Airways continues to temporarily hold flights to severely affected countries due to entry restrictions implemented by many governments to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The airline will place a temporary hold on flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) from 1 April 2020, Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) from 4 April, and Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN) from 5 April, with the intention to reinstate flights in line with a return to regular conditions.
At the same time, Qatar Airways is working tirelessly to ensure that those stranded abroad can fly home to their loved ones. The airline is working with governments around the world to maintain a strong schedule of flights, and organising charter flights where needed. The airline has received words of thanks from many countries, including the governments of Germany, the UK, France, Pakistan, and Oman for its efforts to return their citizens.
The airline is also offering maximum flexibility to passengers in terms of managing their travel plans. Passengers that have booked are planning to book tickets for travel up to 30 September 2020 can alter their travel date free of charge, exchange their ticket for a future travel voucher valid for one year or get a refund. For more details, visit qatarairways.com/en/travel-with-confidence.html.
Health and safety measures
Qatar Airways has implemented robust policies to ensure the health and safety of its passengers and employees. Cabin crew have received training on how to minimise their chances of contracting or spreading the infection, are thermally screened before the departure of flights and after their arrival, and are quarantined and tested if any colleagues or passengers on a flight shows any symptoms of infection or test positive for the virus. As the current pandemic has escalated, cabin crew have been authorised to wear surgical masks and disposable gloves.
In addition, Qatar Airways has revised its distribution of cabin crew on flights, sending two groups on short-haul and medium-haul flights – the first to manage the outbound trip, the second to manage the inbound trip. For long-haul flights, crew members who have to stay overnight in a foreign city can only travel in Qatar Airways-approved transport and must remain in their rooms, limiting human interactions.
In terms of passengers, Qatar Airways is encouraging social distancing where possible, especially on flights with lighter loads. Distancing is also implemented during the boarding process, ensuring passengers are allocated seats far apart from each other. The airline is also encouraging passengers to follow hygiene practices recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), such as regular hand washing and refraining from touching the face.
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 WHO.
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, and then sealed into individual packaging by staff wearing disposable gloves.