* Airline will hopefully start operating services to UAE and Bahrain soon, Akbar al-Baker tells CNN
Qatar Airways Group chief executive HE Akbar al-Baker has explained how the airline is already seeing the positive impact of the resolution of the Gulf rift on its operational costs.
In an interview with CNN's Richard Quest, HE al-Baker spoke on various issues, including how Qatar Airways can benefit following the resolution of the dispute, the five-star Covid-19 safety rating from Skytrax and the response to the challenges presented by the pandemic.
Speaking on how the reopening of airspace has shown a "big improvement" for the airline, HE al-Baker said: "Just to give you an example, we saved nearly two hours and 40 minutes flying to Sao Paulo each way. Khartoum will be only three and a half hours instead of seven hours. Lagos, we will save nearly an hour and a half. So, yes it will make a big impact for our operational costs."
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt agreed to heal the rift with Qatar at the Gulf Summit earlier this month, leading to the reopening of airspace and borders.
Since then, Qatar Airways has resumed services to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. During his interview on CNN's 'Quest Means Business', HE al-Baker said the airline hopes to start operating services to the UAE and Bahrain soon.
"We started on the 11th (January) with flights to Riyadh, on the 15th to Jeddah, on the 16th to Dammam. We have already started flying to Egypt, and we will be flying to Alexandria next week and hopefully soon we will start operating both to the UAE and Bahrain."
On Monday, it was announced that Qatar Airways has become the first global airline to achieve the prestigious five-star Covid-19 Airline Safety Rating by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax.
In his interview, HE al-Baker stressed that protecting passengers is the "absolute priority".
"From day one I have been involved in the task force in Qatar Airways. Making sure that every single equipment or every single innovation that was introduced, we were the first one to get. Just give you an example, we have the UV system that we use in airplanes. We hold a very large number of them. And every single aircraft, every 24 hours, it is completely disinfected using the UV.
"We have robots that go around the airport, we have contactless check-in areas and boarding gates. We have done everything, including the PPE that our crew wear, the way we are delivering and catering to the airplane. So, we have gone through the entire process to make sure that we have done our utmost to protect our passengers."
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