Qatar Airways laid out the plans to fly a summer schedule to more than 80 destinations worldwide, Al Jazeera says. The corporation was one of the few carriers to continue regular flights to 30 destinations during global lockdown caused by the novel pathogen originated in China.
Qatar Airways, a Doha-based airline, made the announcement via Twitter late on Tuesday. Explaining the current situation and the plans for the foreseeable future, QA confirmed its readines to resume flights to 80 destinations by June.
In mid-May, the carrier has already said that it would start resuming flights to destinations it had suspended due to the infection epidemic and that it aimed to fly to up to 80 destinations by June.
Over the months of the global lockdown, Qatar Airways has been one of the few airlines to continue regular, scheduled flights during the national lockdowns to contain the COVID-19, maintaining services to about 30 destinations.
But like many other airlines forced to shed staff even as lockdowns in some parts of the world ease, the mid to long-term outlook for the long-haul Qatari carrier remains lacklustre.
The global epidemic hit Qatar Airways substantially
The carrier said in early May, there are plans to shed a “substantial” number of employees, including cabin crew. The coronavirus crisis made the company realize such an unpopular decision.
Qatar Airways’ Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said this month that global travel demand will take years to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and many business travellers may never return to the skies, having become accustomed to working remotely, while job losses and business closures would also have an impact.
The CEO, who heads one of the Middle East’s largest carriers, added he would be “very surprised” if travel demand recovered before 2023-2024.
To cope with a slow recovery, Qatar Airways will reduce its fleet by a quarter, CEO added. So far, some aircraft expected to remain grounded and others returned to lessors, while flights to be reduced.
“I am sure there will be demand,” al-Baker said during his interview to Reuters. CEO also forecasted the airline would be able to fill between 50 percent and 60 percent of seats.
Qatar Airways: New health protocol during the flights
The International Air Transport Association, the body representing global airlines, earlier this month came out in favour of passengers wearing masks onboard, as debate intensifies over how to get airlines flying while respecting physical-distancing rules following the coronavirus crisis.
Restoring confidence in how to safely operate services and give passengers the confidence to fly ahead of restrictions easing is another matter. Now, Qatar Airways will have to encourage passengers to keep a safe distance from each other where possible while onboard.
Qatar Airways cabin crew will begin wearing protective suits and passengers will have to wear face masks on board, the company said last week.
Cabin crew had been wearing face masks and gloves while on board. But from this week, they will also wear suits over their uniforms, while face masks have been made mandatory for passengers.
Those not wearing a face mask inside the State of Qatar risk a fine of 200,000 riyals ($55,000) and a maximum prison sentence of three years.
On short and medium-haul flights, one set of Qatar Airways’ cabin crew will operate the outbound flight and a second group the inbound.