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Qatar Airways: Keeping the Routes Open and Safe

Globe Destinations | 9 October 2020
Qatar Airways is one of the first airlines to respond to the crisis by offering its customers a flexibility booking policy. Airlines' refund policy provides customers with confidence and peace of mind to travel. Photo courtesy of Qatar Airways/NOW!JAKARTA

There has been a lot of speculation about who is still flying into and out of Indonesia and how safe it is, and what regulations are in place, so to cut through the clutter, NOW! Jakarta’s Alistair Speirs went straight to Ajay Jacob, the Country Manager of Qatar Airways to see what the situation really is. Here is their full discussion.

I am sure that Qatar Airways have been as much affected by the crisis-or more- but did you ever stop servicing Indonesia in the last six months of the pandemic?

The Covid-19 pandemic impact isn’t unique to Qatar Airways alone as it’s caused an unprecedented impact to the aviation industry as a whole and all airlines globally were badly affected; some unfortunately had to cease operation totally after succumbing to financial duress.

While most airlines have suspended their operations, Qatar Airways is one of the few airlines that has remained in operation during this period. Our mission is to take people home safely and reliably during this pandemic. Our passengers and customers have been our highest priority throughout the crisis. Qatar Airways has worked closely with various government bodies and embassies around the world, including France, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Canada, the US and UK to bring people home safely. The airline’s services between Jakarta and Doha have also remained in operation throughout the pandemic.

Presumably you have undertaken very strict Covid-19 related changes to your whole check-in, luggage drop and on-board services procedures. Can you walk us through them please? I presume everything you do meets WHO standards or exceeds them?

At Qatar Airways, we remain committed in ensuring the safety of our passengers and crew. We apply the highest standards of cleanliness on board with our aircraft thoroughly disinfected and equipped with industrial-size HEPA filters that remove 99.97% of viral and bacterial contaminants for re-circulated air, and thermal screening of our crew.

To ensure the safety of our passengers and staff on board, we have introduced protective wears for cabin crew, offering passengers ultimate flexibility and comfort. The new Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) coverings for cabin crew are fitted over their uniforms, along with safety glasses, gloves and a mask.

Passengers are also required to wear face coverings in flight and we are now providing them with PPE kits that include a facemask, disposable gloves and hand sanitiser. They are also provided with a face shield visor (available in adult and children sizes) when they check in at Hamad International Airport and boarding gates at our international destinations. Business class passengers are also offered an additional 75ml sanitiser gel tube.

Economy Class passengers are required to wear their face shield visor in addition to their face mask or covering throughout the flight, except when they are served their meals or drinks. Business Class customers are asked to wear their face shield and mask on board at their own discretion, as they enjoy more space and privacy. Large bottles of hand sanitiser are placed in the galleys and made available for both cabin crew and passengers.

We encourage social distancing on board where possible, especially on flights with lighter loads. Social distancing measures are also in place during check in and boarding. While it is not practical to keep the middle seat vacant for economic and logistical reasons, strong awareness campaigns and good hygiene measures can help reassure passengers in the air and on the ground during their travels.

If someone wants to fly to ME, Europe or North American destinations, are there special qualifications or certifications required? What are they? Will Qatar tell intending passengers of restrictions or quarantine provisions at end destinations or is this the responsibility of the passenger?

Currently, passengers traveling from Bangladesh, Brazil, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka are required to present a negative Covid-19 RT PCR test taken no more than 96 hours prior to their flights. They have to be from laboratories approved by Qatar Airways and paid for by the passengers. Tests will also be required for passengers traveling from Armenia, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Russia once these routes have resumed.

The safety, security and good health of our passengers remains our highest priority. As an airline, Qatar Airways works closely with global and national authorities to implement the latest advice and guidance on Covid-19 and update our services accordingly. Our passengers can also stay up-to-date with more Covid-19 updates and travel alerts on our website: https://www.qatarairways.com/en/travel-alerts/COVID-19-update.html.  

What are the current schedules that you are running into Indonesia (Jakarta and Bali)?

Qatar Airways is operating 14-weekly flights to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

Flight schedule:

Jakarta (CGK) to Doha (DOH)

  • QR955 departs: 00:40 arrives: 05:10
  • QR957 departs: 18:25 arrives: 22:55

Doha (DOH) to Jakarta (CGK)

  • QR956 departs: 00:40 arrives: 13:40
  • QR958 departs: 18:25 arrives: 08:45+1day

In terms of onboard service, are there any limitations to this in terms of food and drinks as a result of the pandemic? Or perhaps toilet usage?

Meals have certainly been adapted and altered to adhere to the strictest hygiene standard to safeguard the health of our passengers. Essentially there is no change to the quality of food, except all food items are now packaged according to hygiene standards to ensure maximum safety for our passengers. For instance, all bread rolls and individual food items on meal trays are now individually wrapped for best hygiene practice. Business Class meals are also served on a tray instead of a table set up, and a cutlery wrap will be offered to passengers as an alternative to individual cutlery service, in an effort to reduce contact between the crew and the passengers. We have also introduced single-use menu cards and sealed refreshing wipes. Quisine meals are still available and in Economy Class, all meals and cutlery are served sealed as usual, and menu cards have been temporarily discontinued to minimise touchpoints.

We also encourage social distancing where possible, especially on flights with lighter loads. Distancing is also implemented during the boarding process, ensuring that all passengers are allocated seats far apart from each other. Social areas onboard aircraft, including the Airbus A380 lounge and the social areas on both the Airbus A350 and the Boeing B787 have also been closed to adhere to the social distancing measures. Large bottles of hand sanitizers are also placed in the galleys, available for usage by cabin crew and passengers.

Is there anything else you would like to update us with to reassure your passengers of their safety and comfort? 

As an airline that has never stopped flying during this pandemic, Qatar Airways will continue to stay committed to its mission – to take people home safely and reliably. At Qatar Airways, we have an honest network – what we file is what we intend to operate unlike other carriers who are likely to cancel services, placing the trade in a different situation with customers. As an airline, we have led the industry during these challenging times accumulating unrivalled experience of how to safely and reliably carry passengers during these challenging times. The airline’s young fleet of sustainable aircraft has enabled it to maintain its position as the leading airline providing global connectivity with over 650 weekly flights to more than 90 destinations. Qatar Airways is committed to the sustainability of the planet and safety of our customers. We operate the right sized aircraft like A350 and B787 to fly cleaner. As we know, A380 generates 80% more CO2 emissions than  A350.

Qatar Airways was also one of the first airlines to respond to the crisis by offering its customers a flexibility booking policy. Our refund policy provides customers with the confidence and a peace of mind to travel. Qatar Airways offers four different options in the event of flights being cancelled:

  • Hold on to your ticket (valid for two years), Unlimited changes – change the date or destination within 5,000 miles free of charge
  • Exchange for travel voucher – additional 10% value and valid for two years
  • Swap for Qmiles – flexible to use as you wish and valid for three years
  • Refund your ticket – we will refund if your flight is canceled to the original form of payment

Thank you and hope to be in the air with you again soon!