Eight Qatar Airways freighters will be flying to China on Friday free of charge to carry medical supplies in light of the coronavirus outbreak, H E Akbar Al Baker, Secretary-General of Qatar National Tourism Council and GCEO of Qatar Airways Group, said yesterday.
H E Al Baker was speaking in response to a question during a press conference on the upcoming 17th Doha Jewellery and Watches Exhibition at JW Marriott Marquis City Center Doha yesterday.
“We are to send eight aircraft on the 21st of this month to China; two of them will go to Beijing, three will go to Shanghai and three aircraft will go to Guangzhou. These eight aircraft will carry medical supplies donated by
Chinese people, Chinese embassies, countries, government of Qatar and Qatar Airways to the Chinese people,” said Al Baker.
“This is to show our appreciation and support for the Chinese people,” he stressed.
He added: “These eight aircraft will be all lined up behind each other and will be departing to China at the same time with an interval of four minutes apart.”
“We are the only international airline that has offered to carry all medical supplies to China free of charge. We have already been carrying those on our freighters because Qatar Airways has not stopped freighter services to China,” he said.
He clarified that “Qatar Airways did not stop operations to China because of the virus,” saying that the Novel Coronavirus is “not an airborne transmitted virus.”
“Unfortunately, many countries in the world reacted by stopping any cabin crew or pilot that operates to China. They cannot enter their countries for the period of 14 days which is the incubation period of the virus and this caused Qatar Airways a huge operational distraction, therefore we couldn’t operate to China as we cannot segregate the crew,” he explained.
“Our operation system does not allow us to separate crew that are dedicated to a country and not operating to another country because our crew are operating international flights according to their roster every month.
“So, due to this operational reason and software issues in our crewing system, we had no other alternative but to stop operating to China,” he added.
He underscored that they are trying their best to find ways to quickly modify their software to resume their services to China. Asked on Qatar Airways’ losses due to suspending flights to and from China, he said it would be “substantial” and that Qatar Airways was not alone as any negative impact on China would affect other airlines as China is “one of the biggest tourist contributors to the entire tourism industry across the world.”