Qatar Airways has made refund payments totalling over $1 billion since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March.

The $1.2 billion figure covers over 600,000 passengers, with 96 per cent of refund requests since March now having been processed.

The carrier said that it is currently processing all new refunds back to the original form of payment in less than 30 days.

Qatar Airways also said that 36 per cent of passengers had chosen alternatives to refunds, including exchanging tickets for future travel vouchers, or swapping tickets for Q Miles.

At the height of the crisis the airline said it was getting over 10,000 refund requests per day, leading it to increase automation capabilities (allowing customers to request refunds and travel vouchers online), and redeploying staff from other areas of the business including cabin crew and ground services.

Consumers’ association Which? recently reported that several UK airlines are failing to refund passengers in the timesframes agreed with the Civil Aviation Authority, singling out Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and Tui and calling on the government “to give the CAA the clout to effectively hold airlines to account”.

“Airlines failing to refund passengers in agreed timeframes”

Commenting on the news the group’s CEO Akbar Al Baker said:

“With the impact of Covid-19 on global travel, passengers have had to change their plans at short notice and it has been difficult for them to plan ahead with any certainty. What they want and deserve are flexibility and reliability, and in Qatar Airways we hope they find an airline they can trust.

“The amount we have paid out in refunds has undoubtedly had an impact on our bottom line, but it is our duty to do the right thing by our customers and trade partners and as an airline we are strong enough to mitigate the impact of this.”