Qatar Airways CEO hopes to resume UAE, Bahrain flights 'soon'

  • 1 month ago
Qatar Airways CEO hopes to resume UAE, Bahrain flights 'soon'

Akbar Al Baker blames the lack of coordination across the travel and tourism industry for the challenges airlines are currently facing

The CEO of Qatar Airways is hopeful that flights to and from the UAE and Bahrain will start soon, following the recent normalisation of relations with Gulf countries.

Having resumed flights to Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam in Saudi Arabia, Akbar Al Baker is seeking further Gulf flights after relaunching operations to Egypt on Tuesday.

In an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, he also said the reopening of airspace previously blocked during the regional dispute has made a huge difference to the carrier.

"We saved nearly two hours and 40 minutes flying to San Paulo each way. Khartoum will be only three and a half hours instead of seven hours. Lagos, we will save nearly an hour and a half. So, yes it will make a big impact for our operational costs," he said.

Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, which signed an agreement with Qatar at the 41st annual summit of the GCC, has opened its airspace.

In the interview, Al Baker (pictured above) also blamed the lack of coordination from governments across the travel and tourism industry for the challenges airlines are currently facing.

Speaking on Quest Means Business, Al Baker said: "Because each government is putting out regulations in piece meal - there is no proper coordination. And I also blame the organisations like IATA, AACO and the WHO for not getting together and coming back with a policy that is imposed as a standard for all of the countries to follow - including a travel pass which IATA is now working on.

"This should be standardised and recognised all across the world. Only by doing this, and stopping this quarantine issue, which is again implemented in a very haphazard way - which is really affecting and eroding the confidence with the travellers because nobody knows from a day to the next what would be the regulations.

 

"And the authorities are running around like headless chicken immediately panicking as soon as they see that the figures of infections are rising. If they're implementing these things correctly, they will mitigate the reason for them to do what they're doing."

Al Baker said that protecting passengers is the absolute priority, saying every single aircraft, every 24 hours, is completely disinfected.

"We have robots that go around the airport, we have contactless check-in areas and boarding Gates. We have done everything including the PPE that our crew wear, the way we are delivering and catering to the airplane. So, we have gone through the entire process to make sure that we have done our utmost to protect our passengers."

Asked if he believed that some airlines will go out of business as a result of the coronavirus crisis, he added: "I think if this prolongs, I'm expecting there will be some big airlines that would really need a massive state aid to stay afloat or else they will have to shut their doors."

 

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