In a move to preserve capital and reward passengers, Qatar is amending its refund policy to incentivize travelers. Passengers who opt to receive a travel voucher, in lieu of a refund, will receive a 10% bonus on top of their fare cost. This news comes as Qatar continues to operate over 150 daily flights.
Unofficial flag carrier
Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines still flying to a substantial number of locations. As of writing, Qatar is flying to 70 destinations with 150 daily flights, making it the largest carrier by destinations. While this a far cry from its prior capacity, it is impressive considering some of the largest carriers in the world have parked most of their fleets.
However, operating so many flights at this time would mean negligible demand on many routes. For example, according to travel YouTuber Nonstop Dan on Instagram, Qatar’s flight from Doha to Ho Chi Minh had one passenger on board, while Colombo had zero passengers yesterday. Qatar continues to fly to hard-hit countries including Germany, France, and South Korea. This has allowed many stranded citizens to return to their home countries from all over the world, as governments rapidly shut down borders.
Qatar’s decision to continue flying so many routes comes as its Middle-East competitors are forced to shut down. Emirates, Etihad, and Oman Air have all suspended commercial flights, allowing Qatar to take over many of their passengers (however Qatar is still under a blockade by its neighbors). For now, it’s safe to say that Qatar is leading the ME3.
Financial concerns mount
Qatar’s new incentivization policy is born out of a need to preserve capital. With the 10% bonus, travelers may opt to book fresh tickets now, or later, with the voucher, which might be tempting considering fares right now. This allows Qatar to save millions by not having to shell out individual refunds. While most would rather have their money back, some may use this to fly when things have calmed down.
While Qatar has done a remarkable job ensuring essential travel continues, this will come with huge financial costs. Qatar has already grounded its A380 fleet and cut 75% of its routes, a move in line with other major carriers. The carrier has also begun laying off staff to control costs and could take more drastic steps in the coming weeks.
Qatar’s new policy will help both passengers and the airline in the short term. Passengers who still wish to travel will be able to do so, while the airline preserves crucial capital. Government restrictions have forced many carriers to cut operations, but Qatar continues to live up to its slogan. However, the airline has been forced to take many cost-cutting measures and could take more if the situation drags on, including cutting its current route map.