- Qatar is responding positively to Governments’ requests for repatriation flights
- The low occupancy rates for these flights means not a great amount of income for the carrier
- Qatar is burning through cash savings and will almost certainly go to its government for support soon
Qatar Airways’ CEO believes the carrier will complete around 1,800 flights in the next two weeks as Governments around the world ask airlines to repatriate their citizens who have been left stranded across the globe.
“We have received many requests from governments all over the world, embassies in certain countries, requesting Qatar Airways not to stop flying,” said Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker.
The carrier has flights scheduled to Europe, Asia and the United States on the requests of Governments, says Baker. However, the occupancy rate is less than 50% for these routes, meaning the income is not that great.
“We will fly as long as it is necessary and we have requests to get stranded people to their homes, provided the airspace is open and the airports are open,” Baker said.
Despite the short-term for its services, Baker warns that Qatar Airways is burning through cash and it is the question of when not if, will the carrier request support from its government.
“We will surely go to our government eventually,” Baker noted, before adding that the company can function in this mode for a “very short period”.
Similar to other airlines, Qatar Airways asked staff to take paid and unpaid leave while Baker himself has relinquished his salary until the situation returns to normal.
“We are not taking advantage … this is a time to serve people who want to be with their loved ones in a very trying time,” Baker said on the question of Qatar Airways benefiting from the repatriated flights.
Invezz reported earlier that Qatar’s competitor, Etihad, cancelled almost all passenger flights due to the coronavirus impact on travel demand, except for repatriation flights requested from governments.
“Having receiving requests from governments and customers to support the repatriation of travellers, Emirates will continue to operate passenger and cargo flights to the following countries until further notice, as long as borders remain open, and there is demand: the UK, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Australia, South Africa, USA, and Canada,” Etihad said in a statement last Sunday.