Qatar Airways has announced the steps it is taking to limit the spread of the Covid-19.
These measures include amending its flight schedule, working with governments to bring travellers home, and introducing new policies to “ensure the health and safety” of its staff and passengers.
The airline added that it has also transported 500,000 coronavirus test kits to Doha and will donate these to local health services.
“At Qatar Airways we continue to work hard to take people home to their families, while also ensuring robust health and safety practices to limit the spread of coronavirus,” said Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group chief executive.
“We are adjusting our flight schedules on a daily basis, and since the outbreak of the virus we have stepped up our already robust hygiene practices. In these efforts, we do not work alone – I am grateful for the support we have received from local and national governments and entities, whom we are working in close partnership to overcome this pandemic,” he added.
Flight schedules and bookings
The Qatari national airline will continue to temporarily hold flights to countries that are severely affected by Covid-19 “due to entry restrictions implemented by many governments around the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus”.
The airline said it will place a temporary hold on flights to Madrid Barajas Airport from April 4 and Barcelona El Prat Airport From April 5. It also temporarily cancelled flights to New York John F. Kennedy International Airport from April 1.
It added that it intends to reinstate flights in line with a return to regular conditions.
According to the airline, passengers that have booked or are planning to book tickets for travel up to September 30 this year can alter their travel date free of charge, or exchange their ticket for a future travel voucher valid for one year, or get a refund.
More details of Qatar Airways’ refunding and changing policies can be found here.
The airline is also adding flights to Australia to bring travellers home.
Health and safety measures
The airline said its cabin crew have received training on how to minimise their chances of contracting or spreading the infection, and they have been authorised to wear surgical masks and disposable gloves.
The airline added that the crew would be thermally screened before the flight departure and after their arrival, and they would also be quarantined and tested if any colleagues or passengers on a flight shows any symptoms of infection or tests positive for the coronavirus.
The airline will send two cabin crew groups on short-haul and medium-haul flights, one of which will manage the outbound trip and the other will manage the inbound journey.
For long-haul flights, the airline said its crew members who have to stay overnight in a foreign city can only travel in transportation approved by the airline, and must remain in their rooms and limit interaction with other people.
Qatar Airways said it’s also practicing social distancing where possible, especially on flights with lighter loads. According to the airline, distancing is also implemented during the boarding process.
It also encourages passengers to follow hygiene practices recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), such as regular hand washing and refraining from touching the face.
The airline said it is disinfecting its aircraft regularly and using cleaning products recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and WHO.
According to the airline, its aircraft are equipped with air filtration systems and industrial-size HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, which the airline said can remove 99.97 per cent of viral and bacterial contaminants from re-circulated air.
It added that all the onboard linen and blankets are washed, dried and pressed at “microbial lethal temperatures”, before being sealed into individual packaging by staff wearing disposable gloves.
Some other airlines have also taken different measures in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus: