This week, Simple Flying had the opportunity to talk with Qatar Airways Senior Vice President – Western Region, Eric Odone, about his airline’s passenger services. Amid the unique global conditions, he said that the Doha-based carrier is seeing a mixture of passengers across its operations. However, there have been some surprises along the way.
A mixed bag
Repatriation flights still play a crucial role in the current climate. A lot of countries are only just reopening their passenger hubs. So, there are opportunities to get people back to their homes. Otherwise, many passengers are keen to visit friends and relatives following the strict restrictions.
There have been busy routes to nations that have recently managed to overcome some of the initial challenges of the pandemic. For instance, Qatar Airways has now been able to introduce its full schedule to Pakistan, and bookings are going through the roof.
At one point, Qatar Airways was the best option to Australia. However, it’s a lot more complicated now with the restrictions imposed by the Australian government. Therefore, traffic continues to vary.
Nonetheless, the airline continues to do well with charters and extra flights, which combine greatly with a mixture of scheduled flights. Also, the operator’s sister company, Qatar Executive, has smaller aircraft that can carry 13 passengers, which are often supporting scheduled operations.
Odone said that his company has an agile way of reviewing flights, and ensuring that it does not lose money when it operates. The firm hasn’t had to action any ad hoc, last-minute cancellations because the flights are all covering their costs and bringing additional traffic through other services feeding the network. Altogether, there is enough volume to make sure the trip is profitable. However, they are not too full that people start feeling that they are squeezed in.
The businessman added that the competitive landscape has evolved. Potentially, some airlines might have been strong in specific destinations, but they are not open, or they don’t have certain connections. Subsequently, Qatar Airways is seeing excellent traffic to East African locations such as Tanzania and Kenya at the moment.
While the carrier looks forward to additional countries opening up, there have been some surprise successes in recent months. For example, Odone highlights that his company has sold a lot of New York to Istanbul flights, which may not usually be such a popular route for the airline. However, the changing circumstances are opening up new opportunities such as charters from Argentina to London.
Regardless of the types of passengers, there have not been any significant backlashes against the wearing of face masks or face shields on Qatar Airways’ services. There have been several situations across other airlines, especially in the US, when it comes to opposition to masks.
However, Odone says that there have not been any incidents on his company’s services. He believes that his passengers want their health to be taken seriously.
Altogether, it’s positive to see Qatar Airways finding ways to adapt amid the tough situation. Hopefully, as authorities find ways to balance travel restrictions, the industry can continue to overcome the struggles.
What are your thoughts about Qatar Airways’ current passenger services? Will you be flying with the airline over the next few months? Let us know what you think about these operations in the comment section.