Qatar Airways is suspending flights to New York and the Spanish cities Madrid and Barcelona, but vows to reinstate them “in line with a return to regular conditions”.
Framing its decision, the Oneworld member says it “continues to temporarily hold flights to severely affected countries due to entry restrictions implemented by many governments to prevent the spread of coronavirus”.
The airline is pausing operations to New York JFK as of today, Madrid Barajas from 4 April and Barcelona El Prat from 5 April.
Amid a widespread industry shutdown, Qatar Airways has shown resistance to axing services, even increasing its capacity to some destinations. It says today it is “working with governments around the world to maintain a strong schedule of flights, and organising charter flights where needed”.
A series of measures have been put in place to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus on Qatar Airways flights, including staff training, the thermal screening of crew on departure and arrival, and the use of quarantine. “As the current pandemic has escalated, cabin crew have been authorised to wear surgical masks and disposable gloves,” says the Middle Eastern carrier.
It has also amended the distribution of its cabin crew on flights to minimise the risk of them catching or transmitting the disease.
At its hub at Hamad international Airport, the majority of the non-essential passenger lounges have been closed and an enhanced cleaning and disinfection regime enacted. Social distancing is also being enforced.
Qatar Airways operates to 165 destinations, Cirium data shows, and has 246 aircraft in its fleet, of which 83 are currently stored.