Qatar Airways: operating more than 150 flights at press time. Credit: Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways has issued a statement to reassure its clients that it will continue operations of more than 150 flights to over 70 cities. This makes it one of the few airlines with the greatest number of flights operating at this juncture.
Qatar Airways' commitment to getting people home stepped up on 24 March with 10,000 extra seats added to its network; the provision of charter services to Europe and the US from Asia; the addition of extra flights to Paris, Perth and Dublin from Doha and upgrading services to Frankfurt, London Heathrow and Perth with the addition of the Airbus A380 on those routes.
Last week, load factors were over 80% for flights to the UK, France and Germany, with a fall to 36% for outbound services from those countries, illustrating the demand for homeward travel.
Working with embassies around the world, the airline has operated one-off services from destinations such as Phnom Penh, Denpasar, Manila and Kuala Lumpur to Europe. More than 5,000 passengers were flown home by these services over the last week, a number that is expected to more than triple over the next week.
The airline has amended its Travel with Confidence and flight disruption policies to give customers more flexibility. Passengers that have booked or will book flights for travel up to 30 September 2020 will be offered the flexibility to change their travel plans for free by altering the dates of their booking or exchanging their ticket for a travel voucher valid for one year. Both changes apply up to three days prior to departure.
Customers who choose the travel voucher will get a full unutilised value of their ticket plus a 10% of the fare cost as an added value offer. There is also an option for a refund back to the form of payment they used to buy the ticket.
Putting hygiene as a top priority. Credit: Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways Group chief executive, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Bakar, said: "The safety, security and good health of our passengers and employees is our highest priority. Although we maintain the very highest standards of hygiene across all parts of the business, we recognise that some passengers may wish to alter their existing travel plans.
"We hope this new policy, alongside our robust hygiene practices and safety record, will allow our passengers to travel with confidence."
Qatar Airways claims it has 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 Organization (WHO), and robust staff training.
In addition, Qatar Airways' aircraft feature advanced air filtration systems, equipped with industrial-size HEPA filters that remove 99.97% of viral and bacterial contaminants from re-circulated air.
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.
Meal service utensils and cutlery are washed with detergents and rinsed with demineralised fresh water at temperatures that kill pathogenic bacteria. Sanitised equipment is handled by staff wearing hygienic disposable gloves, while cutlery is individually re-packed.