Middle East carrier Qatar Airways is the latest airline to announce a capacity cut in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. As more and more countries introduce travel bans and entry-restrictions, many who would have otherwise flown the airline find themselves unable to travel. With its large fleet of widebodies – including 10 Airbus A380s, a 75% reduction for the airline is fairly significant.
Cutting capacity, slashing costs
[I]n the coming days we will operate a 75 per cent reduced schedule comparted to our business plan, grounding a significant portion of our fleet. -Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways
Simple Flying reached out to the airline for confirmation and this is the response we received:
“Qatar Airways is making temporary schedule adjustments to its services due to the operational challenges caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus). An ongoing review is being conducted regularly and the intention is to reinstate flights in line with a return to regular conditions and market demand.”
Travel restrictions around the world
Until recently, Qatar Airways was able to continue its operations despite the country of Qatar imposing travel restrictions for those wishing to enter the country. This is because the majority of Qatar Airways’ passenger traffic only connects through the airline’s Doha hub, with no intention of entering Qatar.
However, in the past week, we have seen countries around the world impose travel restrictions to discourage travel, attempting to contain the virus. One of the most significant moves was from the United States in banning travel from Europe. That has since extended to cross-border travel with Canada. The European Union was the next major travel ban. More recently we saw Australia and India put up their own travel restrictions as well.
All of this equates to fewer travelers for Qatar Airways, raising the need to cut capacity and lower costs.
Wandering Aramean also reports that Qatar Airways will accelerate its internal transformation plans. This includes operational restructuring and a reduction in the airline’s workforce. “I am optimistic about the future of our business and believe the market will rebound as the coordinated global response begins to contain the spread of the virus.” Al Baker writes in the memo.
“Similar to other airlines around the world we are operating a reduced network, however, we understand how important it is for many of our passengers to get home and still have access to flights. We want to reassure them we remain committed to operating services where possible at this challenging time.” -Qatar Airways
If you have an upcoming flight with Qatar Airways, you are advised to check their airline’s website and ensure your booking has up-to-date contact information should the carrier attempt to notify you of any changes.
Are you likely to be affected by this news? Let us know in the comments.