As the airlines across the world are facing huge economic loss due to the novel COVID-19 outbreak, Qatar is likely to introduce mandatory quarantining once flights resume. Although the tiny oil-rich country is expected to the end of the peak of Covid-19 cases as the Minister of Public Health Dr. Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari said on Thursday, yet the pandemic has made it difficult for the airline to pay its employees without resuming operations.
The state-owned airline employs more than 45,000 people and has a fleet of more than 240 planes. In February, Qatar Airways increased its stake in British Airways owner IAG to 25% as part of its strategy to invest in other carriers.
‘We will have to keep some measures in place. Countries are now saying that as part of opening up of travel there is going to be mandatory quarantine and that will probably also be the case in Doha, the Minister told Al Jazeera English.
‘We are active in tracing and finding the cases. Persons coming from other countries and those who contacted them are asked to be quarantined at a government facility or home. Cases with high risk are quarantined at government facilities’, she said, adding Qatar has implemented a legal decree to deal with quarantine violators.
Qatar airline to lay off its employees?
According to a BBC report, Qatar Airways has warned its employees of “substantial” redundancies as it struggles with a collapse in demand. Its chief executive Akbar Al Baker wrote to staff warning of the job losses, although he did not say how many were under threat. Hence, the airways reportedly decided to go for mandatory Quarantine to resume operations.
#QatarAirways has warned its employees of substantial redundancies amid a collapse in demand for air travel caused by the #coronavirus, according to an internal memo seen by AFP on Tuesday.https://t.co/cgjruMYI3o
— DT Next (@dt_next) May 6, 2020
Qatar Airways said it needed to “act decisively to protect the future of the business”. The airline industry is facing one of its toughest ever periods, with many carriers on the brink of collapse. “The truth is, we simply cannot sustain the current staff numbers and will need to make a substantial number of jobs redundant – inclusive of cabin crew,” Mr Al Baker wrote in an internal memo.
“The unparalleled impact on our industry has caused significant challenges for all airlines and we must act decisively to protect the future of our business,” a Qatar Airways spokesman said.
“World’s best airline?”
Qatar Airways nabbed four accolades at the Skytrax World Airline Awards – 2019 in Paris, including the highest honor, World’s Best Airlines to its name. Now the question is will mandatory Quarantine prove to be an effective strategy to cope with the existing and emerging challenges?
The Group Chief Executive of the Qatar Airways Group, Akber Al Baker, said: “We are thrilled to be globally recognized by our customers by winning these four prestigious awards. Being the first airline to be named ‘Airline of the Year’ for the fifth time is a landmark achievement and, combined with three other major Skytrax awards, is a testament to the tireless efforts of the entire Qatar Airways team. It is a proud moment for the airline as our constant innovation and service standards set the benchmark in our industry.”
Previously awarded in the years 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017, it is Qatar’s fifth time receiving the prestigious honor of World’s Best Airlines for the year 2019. Singapore Airlines of Singapore and ANA All Nippon Airways of Japan won second and third places on the ranking, respectively.
In addition to the highest prize, Qatar Airways was also named as World’s Best Business Class, World’s Best Business Class Seat and Best Airline in the Middle East by its voters.
International Flights to resume with mandatory Quarantine
It is important to note that many countries have decided to resume air operations due to economic and humanitarian challenges posed as a result of the pandemic. Some of them have also introduced the idea of mandatory Quarantine. In this regard, Pakistan is following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure the safety of the air passengers, traveling within or outside the country in special flights, as per its national strategy to contain the Covid-19 spread.
The government modified the existing SOPs for airports at international arrivals on April 4, declaring screening, 24-hour quarantine and collecting swab sample for test of all passengers and flight crew mandatory.
A few days back, the division also made quarantine and RT-PCR test mandatory for airline passengers accompanying a dead body in any flight. As per the preventive measures against the deadly virus, the government on March 21 suspended operation of all international passenger chartered and private flights to Pakistan initially for a period of two weeks, which now has been extended till May 15.
Similarly, Air India will operate 64 flights from May 7 to May 13 to bring back around 15,000 Indian nationals stranded abroad amid the Covid-19-induced lockdown, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday.
Now, the MHA has released the standard operating procedure for Indian nationals stuck in foreign countries. The guidelines also include SOPs for persons stranded in India who are desirous to travel abroad for urgent reasons.