Qatar Airways Counters Trend, Increases Flights

Filed Under: Qatar

Many airlines around the world are winding down operations or at least reducing flights, though one airline is countering the trend.

Qatar Airways increases flights

Just a few days ago I wrote about how Qatar Airways planned on parking their A380s, but the airline has now reversed course. Qatar Airways is upgrading existing flights and even adding additional frequencies in other markets.

This comes as Emirates, Etihad, FlyDubai, and Oman Air all shut down operations for at least a couple of weeks.

Emirates has suspended operations

Since yesterday, Qatar Airways has:

  • Added 10,000 extra seats to their network
  • Added charter service to Europe and the US from Asia
  • Added extra flights to Dublin, Paris, and Perth
  • Upgraded flights to Frankfurt, London, and Perth, to the Airbus A380

Qatar Airways is bringing the A380 back into service

Clearly the airline sees a business opportunity here. Qatar Airways claims that in the past week they’ve flown more than 100,000 people home, and that more than 72% of passengers carried on March 24 were traveling to their country of residency. I would’ve hoped that number would be higher…

As the airline justifies it from a safety perspective:

Qatar Airways is continuing to keeping the skies open and getting as many people home as we possibly can in these challenging times. Our state-of-the-art aircraft with their advanced air filter systems, combined with strict bio-security screening of our staff mean that we can continue operating a significant number of flights to reunite stranded passengers with their loved ones.

Interestingly all of this comes as Qatar’s borders are more or less closed, meaning the airline is acting purely as a transit carrier, connecting people from other parts of the world.

Risky business?

Oman and the UAE have shut down their borders and essentially banned even just transit flights, recognizing that even those flights come with risks. While no passengers can enter and depart the “hub” countries:

  • Flight attendants are traveling around the world and return back home, and are at high risk of COVID-19, which they can easily spread to others
  • Hamad International Airport employees thousands of people, and they go back into the country every day outside of their shifts, interacting with tens of thousands of high risk passengers per day

Qatar hasn’t been spared from COVID-19 issues, and has had well over 500 confirmed cases. Continuing to so aggressively run a global airline seems like it could have some consequences.

Do these added flights come with a risk?

Bottom line

Qatar Airways is countering the trend by increasing service, rather than decreasing service. To me this seems rather risky, though I guess we can compare the cases of COVID-19 in Qatar and the UAE over the next few weeks to see what kind of an impact it has.

Comments
  1. I have tickets to Italy with QR for May, and they are not issuing cash refund despite of EC 261 requirement. They claim my flights have not been cancelled yet. Anyone with a conscious mind can tell this mess won’t end within two months, so I guess that pretty much summarizes QR management’s thinking pattern.

  2. Why isn’t QR award space showing up on AA.com any more? It was there last week but seems to be gone now…

  3. They seem to have no award availability until mid April, which I was surprised by. Was thinking of using this as an opportunity for an island getaway.

  4. Woah. To be honest, I believe they will be raking up profits through cargo transported in these flights, or else there’s no way they can sustain this type of business model. Yesterday’s flight to Colombo had NO passengers and the flight to Ho Chi Minh City had only ONE passenger. Quite a weird strategy but let’s see how this pays off. Given Qatar Airways’ unpredictable and immediate change in decisions, we don’t know whats gonna happen next. But once again, unless they are transporting citizens back to their homes, QR is defeating the whole point of social distancing!

  5. The reason the percentage of people going back to their country of “residency” might not be higher is because a lot of people are going back to their country of citizenship. An Ex-Pat in Thailand, for instance, might be flying back to London where he/she is from to be with family.

  6. Qatar Airways is like Bart Simpson in THE SIMPSONS where he is running for class president and he counters Martins promise to remove asbestos be demanding MORE ASBESTOS! MORE ASBESTOS! MORE ASBESTOS!

  7. @sam let em be the first person to say how catastrophically selfish and irresponsible an ‘island getaway’ would be at this time.

  8. Someone’s gotta fly the ppl home. (Presumably that’s what these flights are needed for). Might as well be Qatar Airways than anyone else?

  9. @MKLDH I can’t think of any airline that will give you a cash refund even though your flights are not cancelled. There is no EC261 requirement to do so. Why don’t you just wait until they cancel them and then apply for a refund? I don’t understand your way of thinking

  10. QR works also with the French government to rapatriate people from their Asian vacation…

    So that may explain why QR has added a flight to Paris.

  11. As Corona is everywhere worldwide by now, flight groundings aren’t useful anymore to help contain the virus. Qatar Airways therefore is right to continue bringing people home.

    Actually it is quite a smart move:
    1.) All tickets that are flown don’t have to be refunded -> Qatar is not bleeding cash like all the other airlines who have to refund billions of Dollars.
    2.) Other airlines can rebook their passengers on Qatar -> even more cash for Qatar
    3.) Passengers will remember who was the only reliable option to get home -> More worth than any advertisement campaign.

  12. I don’t think they can stop the wheel spinning because if they do it will show the problems of the cozy public-private model.

    A commodities economy, QR’s cash consumption rather than generation, and the QIA’s eventual rerating of illiquid investments. How long can a sovereign war chest last?

    Speculation on my part, YMMV.

  13. As with so many responses to this crisis, we’ll have to see how it plays out. The one response that would have avoided a world of hurt would have been China closing down its country for 2 or 3 weeks, no travel out of the country except for foreign government chartered flights to bring home their nationals who would have been quarantined for 15 days. Just wish Trump had closed travel from China 2 weeks earlier.

  14. Back when this all started we called Qatar and asked if we cancelled what wold happen. We were told the would charge us about $600 USD and refund the rest. Their web site suggested similar language. With one stop on our way to So Africa in Qatar and now not being able to stop in Qatar for the 18 hours we cancelled. They said all we get is a voucher. When I explained the above the lady hung up on me. At that point our entire flight ticket did not show up on line so we figured it must have been cancelled. When we checked our time of departure they had changed to
    BA flying us to Europe and then Qatar picked us up for our flight to So Africa. In a few days our booking reappeared so we cancelled and asked for a refund. There are 6 of us and all have had the same problem. First yes we could get a CASH refund if we cancelled then NO CASH, just a voucher. We were looking forward to flying Business with Qatar but are not happy wqith them now.

  15. Ummm. Not 100% true. Your title of ‘Your title of Qatar Airways a counters trend, increases flights’ is misleading.
    Qatar Airways went from 160+ destinations to 70+ destinations over the past month.
    When you say ‘They have changed their Perth flight to an A380’, QR was already flying the A380 to Perth daily for over 2 years. They dropped to a Qsuite B777-300ER, for about 5 days and will go back to A380’s.
    They overall have decreased flights of about 50% (and they are operating more flights than most other airlines) so I think your title of ‘increased flights’ is misleading. Thankyou

  16. Qatar are bypassing the EC261 reimbursement rules by moving their flights from Confirmed to Not Confirmed status rather than Cancelled as is the case for me for a end May SIN-DOH-DUB flight. The first segment is no longer operational if you try to book now. I assume they will move to Cancelled a few days beforehand to conserve cash and only pay out then. Or rather I hope.

  17. I admire QR for trying to bring people home. We have to give them credit. El Al also put on flights to Australia and Peru to bring the Israelis home.
    I am not aware of many AA or DL or UA flights to bring Americans home, perhaps there were, but now they can get a nice bail out from the Government. Hope they no longer cry about QR taking their jobs
    QR is my favourite airline and I look forward to flying them as soon as It is feasible

  18. They’re charging a one way price from Heathrow to Sydney $4500. After paying for 2 flights that have both been cancelled it’s just not affordable.
    Profiting whilst the world is in turmoil

  19. QR are filling the void left by other airlines, people still need to get home. I presume once that requirement is fulfilled, demand might drop again.

    I applaud QR for this move, it makes sense for them to capitalize on the gap left by other airlines.

    We’re due to fly QR in Business in December, and am now looking forward to to the trip more than ever with my favorite airline.

  20. I applaude QR for maintaining flights to and from Bangkok since Thailand has closed its borders to outside visitors starting today untill April 30.

  21. @Simon, I just got am email for a year’s extension of Platinum. I think it is for all Privilege Club Members.

  22. I just booked a flight yesterday with them to go back home, for me they are the most realiable airline right now and with no financial problems, most of other airlines are closing operations with very little or no notice.

  23. There are still other airlines out officially not flying but doing repatriation flights.

    LH for example, though nearly grounded, still do repatriation flights for Germany, as is LX or Edelweiss for Switzerland.

    With so many country restrictions and shutdowns to stem the spread of Covid-19, there may be a point when all planes will be on the ground.

    Germany by the way is now mulling about making a 14 day quarantine a new requirement for all arrivals. Also possibly Stuttgart and Tegel (latter might move traffic to Schoenefeld) may be closed temporarily, given domestic travel has collapsed, but nothing confirmed yet.

    I feel for the cabin crews still working these flights. A few weeks the virus had not spread literally to every corner of the globe and risks for them to contract might have been lower, but now that is much harder to avoid.

  24. One good thing that Qatar has done is that they have extended the status of all privilege club members for the next twelve months. That will give all of us an opportunity to stay loyal to them hopefully when things turn better and people feel safe to fly again.
    Hilton has done a similar thing to their Hilton Hons members and I feel other airlines and hotels should do the same thing as an incentive to customers to start getting back to their loyalty partners once things get back to normal.

  25. Well done Qatar. Numerous of my friends have returned home with Qatar, as others has cancelled.

    Also, just got email from Qatar that my platinum is extended 12 months and qcredits are more flexible:

    ‘XX, we recently contacted you to let you know we would extend your Platinum tier, to recognize the efforts you’ve made toward your Privilege Club tier status.

    We were hopeful to see our frequent flyers flying frequently very soon, but as COVID-19 continues to make planning travel more difficult than ever, we want to go further to honour your loyalty.

    That’s why, we’re delighted to give you twelve more months of your Platinum tier. Another chance to keep your tier, whilst enjoying all of the benefits.

    We know your time is more valuable than ever right now, so we’ll automatically change your tier status on 1 April, for an entire membership year.

    That’s not all. We heard you when you told us our Qcredit policy wasn’t flexible enough. So, we’re changing that too. Your Qcredits now last two years, as long as you retain your tier. What’s more, we’re also making them refundable, no matter how you choose to use them.

    Enjoy your refreshed balance on 1 April, knowing that you have more flexibility than ever before. Choose to use them to upgrade, take an extra bag or relax in the lounge, when the right time comes to travel again.’

  26. When you basically own your employees, if you say they continue to work despite the risk, they have little choice but to do so. One can be sire QR isn’t offering furlough pay etc.

  27. @Dan

    No idea where you take this idea from. Probably from the fake propaganda made by the US3. Which funny enough were the first one to ask for government help.

    Almost every other airline is either firing or mandatory unpaid leave flying crew and they are keeping strong and trying to maintain its works force.

    They are doing better than any other airline in this planet.

  28. @Arnie

    While is is of course commendable that they still fly, not all is rosy at QR. There will be a point when these flights dry up as more and more countries implement a 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival and/or total shutdowns for air travel, like Singapore, India, Kenya, Oman etc.

    According to Reuters QR has already laid off about 200 Filipino workers. The Filipino employees, including engineers and maintenance staff, were laid off last Tuesday and others had also lost their jobs. The layoffs were reported by ABS-CBN.

  29. Well done. Hats off to the flight attendants who face major risk and are facing it in the line of duty. They are helping people reach home but should take extra care of their crew! Am surprised to see no one has any anger or holding China responsible for this catastrophe! Their creation, ‘ the Chinese Virus’!

  30. @Sabine

    I did mention FLYING crew.

    QR has published a press that is in partnership with different countries to repatriate its citizens, I assume they do not only rely on normal passenger flights. In fact on twitter I’ve seen quite a few embassies around the world advising its citizens of the availability of flights with QR. There must be also a lot of cargo going everywhere. Sure times are difficult and everybody is shirking but they are the last one standing and will probably come out the strongest on the other side of this crisis.

    I flown with QR to the Phillipines on holiday with my family on business class and our return flight was the day when all these government blockades started and they were superb all the way !

  31. Well done Qatar! Hope to be able to fly from Cape Town to Sweden soon. We have ticket 21 of april but would like to leave as soon as possible.

  32. My guess is that both QR stahh and airport employees remain virtually isolated when at home in Doha, so the risk of them spreading the Chinese flu is very limited. Kudos to QR for trying!

  33. You need to realize they can only fund this through terrorism-supporting strategies. Flying QR means supporting terrorism. Say no to QR.

  34. While I comend Qatar Airways they are slow to refund fares you wish to cancel and now there trying to fly me to manila. Been waiting 6 days and no reply to email

  35. Utterly irresponsibility. I don’t understand why QR would risk their crew and fellow passengers. I think it’s safer for everyone to stay wherever they are instead of trying to go home now!

  36. I am UK citizen,stranded in Delhi.India has suspended flights until 14th April.We have watched citizens from Russia,Germany,and yesterday Israel be evacuated by their Governments.Our Government appears to be doing nothing.Their format letter on the Covid address give a list of contacts,first one is a Funeral arranger!!
    I tried to book a flight for a date after the present closure to Newcastle.Polish,Gulf,and KLM were advertising.
    I went through the whole booking process three times,to be told flights were full.Prices doubled while I was online.
    Eventually,I decided to try for London, I got an April flight with Qatar for less than £400.
    A tab says it is refundable,yet to explore that.
    I had experience of their flights from Manchester to Delhi.When we were delayed their customer service was brilliant.
    I hope to fly with you soon,Qatar,blessings for your health

  37. Wow ! Profiteering at its best !

    Selfishly jeopardizing the safety of the crew and others for the sake of making money.

    This is definitely a new low even for Qatar Airways with the long history of human rights abuses.

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