MIAMI – Qatar Airways (QR) will slash about 9,000 jobs as it is set to retire 50 aircraft from its fleet due to the uncertain recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic over the next three years.

The layoffs were previously announced in an internal memo to QR staff last week as the company was seeking government aid due to its financial losses as it keeps burning through its cash reserves.

At the time, the CEO stated, “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.”

How future operations will look like

Qatar CEO, Akbar Al Baker said today in a BBC interview that the airline has no other alternative than to layoff part of its 46,000-strong workforce.

The dismissed jobs are related to operations on 50 aircraft of its fleet of 245, the latter which will also be retired as there is no certainty on how long it will take to recover from the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Qatar Group is facing a similar negative impact on its other airlines, which include Cathay Pacific (CX), International Airlines Group (IAG), and LATAM (LA), as it holds equity stakes on them.

Photo: Clement Alloing

Al Baker also denied a bailout plan for CX as the latest reports alleged, but did not rule out cash injections to support any of the Group’s investments.

Further, the CEO offered his thoughts about COVID-19 and the current extraordinary situation, saying that social distancing on planes was nearly impossible, but that now passengers would have to wear face masks and gloves.

He added that he does not believe that the quarantine period will solve the problem as the only answers are treatment and a vaccine.

Additional services for passengers amid no regularly scheduled flights

Regarding the plunge in air passenger demand, the carrier just announced in recent days that it would give away 100,000 free tickets to frontline healthcare professionals as a gesture of appreciation for their hard work.

For affected passengers grappling with travel restrictions, QR offered extended booking policies such as unlimited date changes, Qmiles, travel voucher exchanges, and refunds for tickets booked before December 31 2020, which now will be valid for two years from their purchase date.

Even though quarantine periods are been globally extended, the company will also resume flight repatriation services to Brisbane, Australia by three times a week from May 20.

Photo: Australian Aviation

Beyond charter operations, QR continues operating short-term repatriation services upon exceptional approval by the corresponding authorities.

Qatar was the first international airline to volunteer free emergency air cargo transportation of medical supplies donated to China for Coronavirus alleviation. The first donation from The State of Qatar was delivered by the airline to Shanghai on February 2, 2020.

On March 26, QR set to expand operations to Australia starting March 29 to get its customers back home, adding in the process 48,000 extra seats to the market. This was the first time the airline operated in Brisbane.