In this ongoing situation, it is imperative for premium airlines worldwide to keep their world-class service intact but also ensure a healthy and hygienic inflight atmosphere.
Business Traveller India exclusively speaks to Karthik Viswanathan, senior manager, – Indian sub-continent, Qatar Airways for insights on how they have altered their onboard operations.
What is the new normal for passengers while flying on Qatar Airways?
Qatar Airways has implemented several changes, including the introduction of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits for cabin crew, as well as a modified service that reduces interactions between the passengers and the crew. Travellers are also required to wear face masks inflight, and we advise that they bring their own for fit and comfort purposes.
Additionally, large bottles of hand sanitisers are placed in the galleys.
Aircraft are regularly disinfected using cleaning products recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The airline’s hub, Hamad International Airport, has also invested in deploying disinfectant robots. The airport has implemented stringent cleaning procedures and applied social distancing measures throughout its terminals. All passenger touchpoints are sanitised every 15 minutes and boarding gate and bus gate counter is cleaned after each flight.
Linen and blankets are washed, dried and pressed at microbial lethal temperatures, while its headsets are removed of ear foams and rigorously sanitised frequently. These items are then sealed into individual packaging by staff wearing hygienic disposable gloves.
The containers and cutlery are washed with detergents and rinsed with demineralised freshwater at temperatures that kill pathogenic bacteria.
The crew has received training on how to minimise their chances of contracting or spreading the infection. They are thermally screened before the departure and after their arrival and are quarantined and tested if any colleagues or passengers on a flight show any symptoms of infection or test positive for the virus.
What efforts are being taken to offer an enhanced experience to Qsuite guests without compromising on the safety measures?
In addition to all the onboard safety measures and guidelines, mentioned earlier, passengers flying business class can avail enhanced privacy that the Qsuite provides including sliding partitions and fully closing doors creating a private sanctuary. Guests can also opt for the do not disturb (DND) indicator in their private suite if they wish to limit their interactions with the cabin crew.
Business-class meals are served on a tray instead of a table set up, and a cutlery wrap is offered to passengers as an alternative to individual cutlery service.
What measures are adopted to ensure social distancing between passengers, especially in economy class?
We are encouraging social distancing wherever possible, especially on flights with lighter loads. Distancing is also implemented during the boarding process, ensuring passengers are allocated seats far apart from each other.
We are constantly informing our staff with changes and updates internally, and our customers can also stay up-to-date with updates from us via our COVID-19 webpage.
Updates on adding new routes or increasing frequency across the airline’s network?
Qatar Airways has initiated a phased approach to expand its network that is in line with passenger demand evolution and the expected relaxation of entry restrictions around the world.
The gradual rebuilding of its network continues with Bangkok, Barcelona, Singapore and Vienna resuming flights this week, growing the airline’s global network to over 170 weekly flights to more than 40 destinations. The airline also recently announced the upcoming resumption of flights to Berlin, Dar es Salaam, New York and Venice while also increasing services to Dublin, Milan and Rome to daily flights.