Qatar Airways has been flying throughout the pandemic.
Qatar Airways has increased its autumn passenger schedule to more than 50% per cent of its pre-coronavirus network. It has also underlined its commitment to repatriating Australians in a recent statement.
“We remain in close contact with Australian authorities regarding flight restrictions, as ensuring the ongoing repatriation of passengers to the country is becoming increasingly challenging,” said Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker.
Australian authorities introduced passenger caps on returning residents in July in an attempt to manage quarantine levels. The number of daily arrivals are currently limited to 350 passengers in Sydney, while Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide are capped at around 75 passengers per day. Melbourne remains closed to international flights.
According to Australian media outlets, there are more than 18,000 Australians stranded overseas. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says around 2,000 of those trying to return home are considered in a “vulnerable” position.
In July flag carrier Qantas removed the inventory for almost all its international flights until March 2021. It continues to operate some flights to New Zealand.
“While other airlines grounded operations, we maintained our flights, carrying almost 40% of all international travellers to and from Australia between April and June, helping to take over 180,000 Australian and international travellers home since the start of the crisis,” said Al Baker.
Globally, Qatar says it will be increasing its passenger service to more than 650 weekly flights to 85 destinations by mid-September.
In Asia, weekly flights to Kathmandu will restart on September 6 and Ho Chi Minh will receive daily flights from September 15. London’s Heathrow began receiving four Qatar Airways flights a day from September 1, although travellers from the Middle East are currently subject to 14 days quarantine on arrival in the UK.
“Returning to over 50% of our pre COVID-19 network is a significant milestone,” said Al Baker. “We have taken more international passengers home than any other airline during this pandemic.”
Qatar’s covid-19 booking policies have been extended and the airline is offering unlimited date changes and destination changes within 5,000 miles of the original destination. No fare differences will be charged for travel completed before December 31, 2020.
Onboard safety measures include the provision of personal protective equipment for cabin crew and a complementary protective kit and disposable face shield for passengers.