Qatar Airways has issued refunds worth $1.2 billion to over half a million passengers since the current crisis took hold five months ago. While the refunds have hit the airline’s bottom line, the carrier stands by its decision to do right by its passengers and partners. Qatar has continued operations through the pandemic, providing essential flights to thousands returning home.
Refunds paid out
In a statement to The Independent, Qatar said the last five months have seen 600,000 passengers receive refunds for their tickets. This amounts to a massive $1.2bn, averaging roughly $2,000 per passenger, quite a high amount. Passengers who saw their flights canceled had the choice of taking a cash refund, taking airline credits (with a bonus), or simply leaving their ticket open for up to two years.
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These figures do make sense when comparing to Qatar’s competitors. Emirates reported in April that is has nearly 500,000 refunds to process and will use its cash reserve to pay passengers. Similarly, American refunded a vast $600 million in just a month at the height of the pandemic and is expected to process well over $1bn.
Qatar has received praise for its operations throughout the pandemic, never suspending flights altogether. As airlines around the world cut flights, Qatar became an unofficial flag carrier of sorts, bringing home stranded passengers from around the world. This has also allowed the carrier to have some amount of revenue flowing in, no matter how little.
Interestingly, 36% of passengers opted not to take a cash refund and accept airline credit instead. This could’ve been a show of faith in Qatar Airways or passengers taking advantage of the added credits or exceptional rebooking policy. Nevertheless, the carrier seems to have saved itself millions by passengers having confidence in the airline.
Travel slowly picks up
Despite Qatar’s work through the crisis, it is still battling the effects of the downturn. The airline has been planning substantial layoffs to tackle the acute lack of demand, with up to 9,000 jobs on the line.
Some of Qatar’s cabin crew is also working in the airline’s contact center, to compensate for reduced flying hours. The airline is also reviewing fleet plans and aircraft deliveries to cut back costs in the coming years. Qatar has canceled orders for the 737 MAX (destined for the now-shutdown Air Italy) and has warned that more deferrals are possible.
Despite the current predicament, Qatar is pushing on with route resumptions. The carrier is currently flying to over 75 destinations, with hundreds of daily flights to and from its hub in Doha.
As travel hubs reopen, Qatar is seeing passenger traffic from many who wish to visit family and friends or travel for business. For now, Qatar will continue slowly building back its network as traffic picks up once again.
What do you think about Qatar’s current plan? Are you still waiting on a refund? Let us know in the comments!