Qatar Airways plans ‘substantial’ lay-offs

Long-haul carrier Qatar Airways it to lay off staff due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Doha-based airline did not reveal the number of employees who will be affected.

But an emailed memo from the airline’s CEO that leaked online said the number would be “substantial” and include members of its cabin crew.

“The global outlook for our industry looks grim and many airlines are closing or significantly reducing operations,” Akbar Al Baker wrote in the memo, dated Sunday.

“Now, we have to face a new reality, where many borders are closed, rendering many of our destinations closed and aircraft grounded as a result, with no foreseeable outlook for immediate, positive change.”

Qatar Airways sent a statement to the AP news agency on Wednesday confirming the layoffs.

“The unparalleled impact on our industry has caused significant challenges for all airlines and we must act decisively to protect the future of our business,” the statement said.

Both Qatar Airways and Mr Al Baker said the airline hoped to rehire staff quickly once global aviation emerges from the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the airline said it hoped to grow around 30 routes still flying to over 50 by the end of May and 80 by the end of June. Before the pandemic, the airline said it flew to over 160 destinations a day.

Qatar Airways, which began flying in 1994, has a fleet of over 200 aircraft that it flies out of Doha’s recently built Hamad International Airport.

It competes with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and Dubai-based Emirates, two other state-owned airlines now facing the dire economic situation brought on by the coronavirus.