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Qatar Airways Plans to Reduce Fleet by 25 Percent
Air travel has been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and aircraft are gradually becoming airborne again after months of hiatus and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker may share the same idea but he is a little skeptical that air travel will take some time, if not years, to recover from the pandemic. According to his projections, Al Baker will be “very surprised” if air travel will be able to recover before 2024. To manage this slow recovery, Qatar Airways will opt to reduce its fleet by 25 percent, maintain reduced flights and ground some of the remaining aircraft in the fleet. Several aircraft will also be returned to lessors, though Al Baker did not elaborate on how many.
Speaking to Reuters, Al Baker was cautiously optimistic that Qatar Airways will be able to fill about 50 percent to 60 percent of seats during the recovery period, adding that passenger demand may still be there. “There are still a lot of people stranded around the world and people who want to visit their loved ones,” Al Baker said.
Despite the lockdown imposed around the globe, Qatar Airways has continued to offer scheduled flights to about 30 destinations and has also been helping in the transportation of medical aid supplies to different parts of the world. The state-owned airline aims to fly to about 80 destinations out of its 165 routes by the end of June.
There is no doubt that things won’t be exactly the same as they were before the pandemic with health precautions becoming a key factor to airlines in trying to win passenger confidence. Qatar Airways actively encourages its passengers to maintain social distancing as much as possible. International Air Transport Association (IATA) has projected a $314 billion loss in ticket sales for airlines and recently proposed wearing masks for every passenger aboard flights to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The Qatari airline also plans to rehire its employees which were made redundant once there are eased restrictions and travel bans are lifted.
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