Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the airline has offered unrivalled flexibility and reliability to customers that need to change their travel plans
In addition to honouring refunds, the airline’s two year ticket validity, flexible change policies, and travel vouchers have proved popular with passengers
Doha, Qatar – Qatar Airways has paid out over USD $1.2 billion in refunds to almost 600,000 passengers since March, demonstrating its commitment to honouring its obligations to passengers who need to change their plans due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global travel.
In the context of unprecedented numbers of refund requests as airlines and passengers navigate entry restrictions imposed by countries around the world to limit the spread of COVID-19, Qatar Airways has worked hard to process almost all refunds requested since March 2020 (96%). The airline is now processing all new refunds back to the original form of payment in less than 30 days.
Additionally, the airline introduced an unrivalled flexible booking policy that has proved extremely popular with passengers. Qatar Airways tickets are now valid for two years from the date of issuance. Passengers can also choose to change their travel date or destination free of charge as often as they need, change their origin to another city within the same country or any other destination on the airline’s network within a 5,000 mile radius of the original, exchange their ticket for a future travel voucher worth 110% of the original ticket value, or swap their tickets for Avios.* Over one third (36%) of Qatar Airways passengers selected one of these options over a refund.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “With the impact of COVID-19 on global travel, passengers have had to change their plans at short notice and it has been difficult for them to plan ahead with any certainty. What they want and deserve are flexibility and reliability, and in Qatar Airways we hope they find an airline they can trust. The amount we have paid out in refunds has undoubtedly had an impact on our bottom line, but it is our duty to do the right thing by our customers and trade partners and as an airline we are strong enough to mitigate the impact of this.”
Qatar Airways took a number of important measures to ensure that it could manage the unprecedented number of refund requests – over 10,000 per day at the height of the crisis – from passengers that needed to change their travel plans in light of COVID-19. Firstly, it increased its automation capabilities, with customers being able to request their refund online, from which point it can largely be processed automatically. The airline also automated travel voucher requests, so that passengers were able to receive a voucher within 72 hours of requesting it online.
In terms of manpower, Qatar Airways redeployed employees from other areas of the business – for example its Cabin Crew and Ground Services staff – to join the airline’s global network of customer contact centres to help manage the large volume of online requests and customer phone calls.
The airline has also worked hard to make the refund and rebooking process as easy as possible for its trade partners, continuing to use the industry standard global distribution system (GDS) – a largely automated process that is simple to use for travel agents – to pay out refunds. Although Qatar Airways is now seeing a decrease in the number of refund requests, it remains committed to honouring its policies to passengers and trade partners.
Qatar Airways is one of the few global airlines to have never stopped flying throughout this crisis and continues to utilise its full fleet of 30 Boeing 787 and 49 Airbus A350 aircraft. The airline’s variety of modern, fuel-efficient aircraft has meant it can continue flying by offering the right capacity in each market. Due to COVID-19’s impact on travel demand, the airline has taken the decision to ground its fleet of Airbus A380s as it is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market.
With entry restrictions around the world now easing, the airline continues to lead the recovery of global travel, operating over 500 weekly flights to over 80 destinations worldwide via the Best Airport in the Middle East, Hamad International Airport (HIA).
Qatar Airways’ onboard safety measures for passengers and cabin crew include the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for cabin crew and a complimentary protective kit and disposable face shields for passengers. Business Class passengers on aircraft equipped with Qsuite can enjoy the enhanced privacy this award-winning business seat provides, including sliding privacy partitions and the option to use a ‘Do Not Disturb (DND)’ indicator. Qsuite is available on flights to more than 30 destinations including London, Paris, and Frankfurt. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented onboard and at HIA, visit qatarairways.com/safety.
*Terms and conditions apply. Please visit qatarairways.com/RelyOnUs for more information.
Notes to Editors:
About Qatar Airways:
A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organisation Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’ and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. Qatar Airways is the only airline to have been awarded the coveted “Skytrax Airline of the Year” title, which is recognised as the pinnacle of excellence in the airline industry, five times.
Hamad International Airport (HIA), the airline’s home and hub, was recently ranked “Third Best Airport in the World”, among 550 airports worldwide, by the SKYTRAX World Airport Awards 2020. Rising from fourth position in 2019 to third in 2020, HIA has been steadily rising in the ‘World's Best Airports’ rankings since the start of its operations in 2014. In addition, HIA was voted the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’ for the sixth year in a row and ‘Best Staff Service in the Middle East’ for the fifth year in a row.
Qsuite, a patented Qatar Airways product, features the industry’s first-ever double bed in Business Class, as well as privacy panels that stow away, allowing passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room, a first of its kind in the industry.
Qatar Airways was the first Gulf carrier to join global airline alliance oneworld, enabling its passengers to benefit from more than 1,000 airports in more than 160 countries, with 14,250 daily departures.
Oryx One, Qatar Airways’ in-flight entertainment system offers passengers up to 4,000 entertainment options from the latest blockbuster movies, TV box sets, music, games and much more. Passengers flying on Qatar Airways flights served by its B787, B777, A350, A380, A319 and select A320 and A330 aircraft can also stay in touch with their friends and family around the world by using the award-winning airline’s on-board Wi-Fi and GSM service.
Qatar Airways proudly supports a range of exciting international and local initiatives dedicated to enriching the global community that it serves. Qatar Airways, the official FIFA partner, is the official sponsor of many top-level sporting events, including the FIFA 2022 World Cup, reflecting the values of sports as a means of bringing people together, something at the core of the airline’s own brand message - Going Places Together.
Qatar Airways Cargo, one of the world’s leading international air cargo carriers, serves more than 60 freighter destinations worldwide via its world-class Doha hub and also delivers freight to more than 160 key business and leisure destinations globally on more than 250 aircraft. The Qatar Airways Cargo fleet includes two Boeing 747-8 freighters, 21 Boeing 777 freighters and five Airbus A330 freighters.
Qatar Executive is the private jet charter division of Qatar Airways Group. Luxury jet services are available for worldwide charter on board the operator’s wholly-owned business jet fleet. Qatar Executive is the launch customer for Gulfstream’s G700, the world’s first commercial service operator of the Gulfstream G500 and largest commercial operator of the G650ER worldwide. Qatar Executive's service portfolio also includes aircraft management, maintenance and Fixed Based Operator services.
For further information, please contact:
Qatar Airways Group, Corporate Communications Department
Tel: +974 4022 2200