Travel analyst Simon Calder told Euronews’ The Exchange program that over the past 15 months, “the skies have been as empty as the average office” as airlines feel that travel is not coming back to pre-pandemic levels for perhaps four to five years. .
“For any airline, next year is going to be critical and painful,” he adds.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic – travel bans and border closures, among others – Qatar Airways has never stopped flying.
“We connected 3.1 million people in the early stages of the pandemic lockdown to deliver them safely to their loved ones. We never closed the hub. Today we are the global connector for people, ”airline group chief executive Akbar Al. Baker told The Exchange.
Part of Qatar Airways’ success throughout the pandemic has been its base, Hamad International Airport. It is one of the most interconnected hubs in the world, with 60% of the world’s population within an 8-hour flight of Qatar.
COVID security standards
Hamad International is the first and only airport in the Middle East and Asia to achieve a 5-star Skytrax COVID-19 airport security rating.
Cutting-edge technology is being used in the fight against COVID with a robot disinfectant releasing concentrations of ultraviolet C light in high traffic areas to reduce viruses and bacteria.
Smart control headsets monitor all passengers using infrared thermal imaging, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.
The airport and its staff aren’t the only ones playing a role in keeping the COVID zone safe. All travelers should present their mobile health app to fully immunized airport staff.
Onboard UV cabin system kills pathogens and air filtration systems with HEPA filters remove nearly 100% of viral and bacterial contaminants from recirculated air.
Al Baker thinks it’s important for everyone to realize that the impact of COVID will be present for a while and that people need to adjust their lifestyles, which is exactly what he says Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport did.
But the airline will not stop there. According to Al Baker, the key to success for any business is taking risks and being decisive. “We must continue to completely revise our operating strategies and our operating model, because every day, with short notice, countries are closing their airports and borders. “
It’s hard to imagine how any business or industry could have prepared for the global health crisis, but Qatar Airways and Hamad International Airport have managed to keep their operations going.