Qatar Airways’ has assured its passengers that pre-flight rapid Covid-19 tests would be available by mid-October as other major air carriers worldwide are struggling to overcome the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry.
“We will start testing our passengers, a lot of them, hundreds of thousands of them, starting from the middle of this month. So, we want to be at the forefront of giving comfort to passengers that when they travel on Qatar Airways, they are in safe hands,” Group chief executive HE Akbar al-Baker told aviation analyst Alex Macheras in an online session hosted on Thursday by the World Affairs Councils of America.
Al-Baker also lauded the progress that has been made in terms of testing passengers prior to boarding, which Macheras described as “the ultimate goal” and “one of the few strategic options” available for airlines prior to a Covid-19 vaccine.
“As far as the testing is concerned, again, there are major advancements in testing, which is good news for us as an airline and also good news for countries because they will be able to test people quickly.
“Coming to that, Qatar Airways is already one of the first airlines to have placed a huge order for the rapid tests, which are now out. Roche is one of the pharmaceutical companies that have brought this rapid test. Abbott is another one that has got out a test,” al-Baker responded.
According to al-Baker, Qatar Airways had made sure that the airlines had a “Plan B” as the airline industry, and even economies across the globe, grappled against the effects of the health crisis.
“I only realised the magnitude of this pandemic by the end of February. I was not expecting it to be so severe and so drastic, but we had to make sure that if something drastic happens that we had a ‘Plan B’ because I could see that airlines were going to stop operating, airports will start shutting down because of the huge warnings that started to come out of the WHO (World Health Organisation).
“So, we had to prepare ourselves. But what I really never expected it to be so severe that it will not only destroy the aviation industry but it will also halt the economy of the world, which is, quite frankly, unprecedented – something that even in our wildest dreams we never expected,” al-Baker pointed out.
During the virtual session, al-Baker also lauded American Airlines’ partnership with Qatar Airways, saying that both air carriers have a “strong relationship,” citing it as a “win-win” for both companies. He also said both airlines are constantly “expanding” their relations, and “will continue to do a lot more business together.”
“American Airlines was the first carrier to realise that it was good and in mutual benefit to start working with Qatar Airways…and American Airlines was the airline that invited us, together with British Airways, to join One World.
“And we had to work together; there was no other alternative,” said al-Baker, adding that American Airlines has “a fine team of individuals that are running the airline, and even during the pandemic,” al-Baker said.