With the vast majority of its passengers transiting the home airport in Doha rather than going to Qatar the recent restrictions on entry into that country did not affect Qatar Airways operations too much. But when all those same transit passengers cannot enter the destination at the other end of the connection they stop flying. And with that precipitous drop in demand the airline must also adjust. Qatar Airways is the latest carrier to slash its schedule as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, with 75% of capacity slated to disappear.
[I]n the coming days we will operate a 75 per cent reduced schedule comparted to our business plan, grounding a significant portion of our fleet.
In an internal memo reviewed by PaxEx.Aero GCEO Akbar Al Baker calls attention to the need for employees to “further study the costs we incur in our day-to-day business and to reduce or postpone those that are not critical to the airline.” He also indicates that, like other airlines around the globe, Qatar Airways will seek to renegotiate contracts with suppliers to further reduce expenses.
The news comes just a few days after the carrier’s official Arab language Twitter account put out a call to travelers to return home “as quickly as possible” to “be with their family and loved ones in these difficult times.” While not outright stating that service would be cut, the tone of the message strongly implied it.
The COVID-19 crunch will also see Qatar Airways accelerate timelines on internal transformation plans. “This will include a restructuring of our operations and a reduction in headcount to streamline our business, making us a stronger and more efficient airline.” Al Baker continues, “I am optimistic about the future of our business and believe the market will rebound as the coordinated global response begins to contain the spread of the virus. As we emerge from the other side of this crisis Qatar Airways will be in a strong position to continue delivering on our proud record of being the World’s Best Airline.”
Still no word yet on specific capacity cut levels from the other ME3 carriers Emirates and Etihad, though Emirates has parked more than a third of its A380s, reflecting capacity and demand reductions.
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