Qatar Airways defies capacity trend to fly travelers home

March 26, 2020
Photo: Qatar

Qatar Airways says it added 10,000 seats to its network Tuesday as it continued to fly home passengers wanting to get back to their families during the COVID-19 crisis.

This included extra flights to Paris, Perth and Dublin from Doha as well as charter services to Europe and the US from Asia.

In Australia, Qatar will add 48,000 seats from March 29 to operate a daily service to Brisbane, double daily flights to Perth and Melbourne as well as a triple-daily service to Sydney.

It also upgraded services to Frankfurt, London Heathrow and Perth by putting the Airbus A380 on those routes.

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Qatar Airways continues to operate to more than 70 destinations around the world as it offers a lifeline to travelers stranded by the tsunami of global airline capacity cuts.

The airline says it is following strict staff bio-security screening procedures for staff operating the flights and is working with global and national authorities to implement the latest guidance on COVID-19 measures.

It has introduced upgraded aircraft cleaning procedures and has a young fleet with advanced air filter screening systems.

The International Air Transport Association says that aircraft air conditioning systems are equipped with high-energy particulate air (HEPA) filters that can screen more than 99.9 percent of airborne threats, including microbes and viruses.

The airline’s home state of Qatar has barred entry to foreign nationals but is still allowing passengers to transit through its hub at Hamad International Airport.

“Figures for the last seven days show load factors of over 80 percent for flights to the UK, France and Germany, with a fall to 36 percent for outbound services from those countries, illustrating the demand for homeward travel,’’ an airline spokesperson said.

“Qatar Airways has flown more than 100,000 passengers home in the last seven days while 72 percent of passengers carried on 24 March were nationals flying to their country of origin.

“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.”

States that have introduced travel bans are allowing their own citizens to return, although with strict quarantine requirements. People who are not citizens or permanent residents are barred from entering an increasing number of countries.