MIAMI – Qatar Airways (QA) joins the plethora of carriers who are planning to make job cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to an internal memo seen by Reuters, QA’s CEO HE Mr. Akbar Al Baker told cabin crew to brace for redundancies.

This comes following a statement made by the airline in March saying it was burning through its cash reserves and would have to seek government aid from the State of Qatar.

Al Baker’s message was about how the business had to respond to the pandemic and what this would mean for those working in the company.

“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”.

“The truth is, we simply cannot sustain the current numbers and we need to make a substantial number of jobs redundant – inclusive of Cabin Crew.”

It is unclear how many jobs the airline will have to cut, but a Qatar Airways spokesman did confirm to Reuters these redundancies will take place.

“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”.

Photo: Clement Alloing

It seems the airline will be sympathetic to those who are from overseas as well as to resident workers.

Contractual dues and any owed overtime will be paid; in addition, housing and a living allowance will be handed out for those who can’t return to their home countries.

There are just over 45,000 people that work for the Qatar Airways Group, 32,000 of which work directly for the airline.

A Detriment to 250 Destinations by 2022

These job cuts will mean that routes will have to be axed, or downgraded in terms of frequencies.

This will no doubt prove to be detrimental to the airline’s strategy of achieving 250 destinations by the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in the country’s capital of Doha.

From 2019 onwards, six new routes have been announced and launched:

  • Gaborone (Botswana) – Launched December 15, 2019.
  • Langkawi (Malaysia) – Launched October 15, 2019.
  • Davao (Philippines) – Launched June 18, 2019.
  • Isfahan (Iran) – Launched February 4, 2019.
  • Osaka (Japan) – Launched April 6, 2020.
  • Luanda (Angola) – Launched March 27, 2020.

New routes such as these will no doubt be put into disrepute and could be scrapped, although it is unclear which ones will be at this stage.

The purely speculative perspective would state that the routes that aren’t the best performers will be the first to go before making harder decisions about the more popular ones.

Even then, that means that the destination count will begin to reduce gradually, meaning that it will be harder for the airline to achieve the above-mentioned target in time for the World Cup.

Overall, this comes as no surprise, especially in the Middle East. Emirates (EK) and Etihad Airways (EY) have put a temporary slash on wages, whilst Air Arabia (G9) announced earlier this week that it had laid off 57 employees.

As the global stage tries to weather the current crisis, job cuts will continue to emerge across the board until the industry can get back to pre-COVID-19 conditions.