Qatar Airways has taken the decision to ramp up onboard safety measures against COVID-19 by providing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for its cabin crew, including a disposable paper hazmat suit that covers the entire body and head. The enhanced protective gear coincides with the airline’s decision to start mandating the wearing of face masks by passengers.
Cabin crew at the Doha-based airline have been required to wear face masks and gloves for several weeks now but the new range of PPE includes the hazmat suit and goggles. Passengers and crew alike are also subject to temperature tests before every flight as part of the airline’s precautions against the novel Coronavirus.
Similar measures have already been introduced by several other airlines including the likes of Emirates and Philippines Airlines which introduced a designer hazmat suit. Qatar Airways is, however, operating far more flights than other airlines and is currently serving around 30 international destinations.
In a statement, Qatar Airways said the new PPE and mandatory face mask rule would “provide even greater reassurance to customers in addition to enhanced hygienic measures already in place”. Passengers will be encouraged to bring their own face mask to ensure the correct fit and comfort.
Passengers will be permitted to take off their masks during meal services which have now been simplified to reduce contact between crew and passengers. Business Class meals will now be served on trays rather than as an individual table setup and large bottles of hand sanitiser will be provided in galley areas for the use of everyone onboard.
Onboard ‘social areas’, as the airline described them, will be off limits until further notice. While Qatar Airways won’t block middle seats in Economy to encourage social distancing, the airline said its QSuite Business Class seats will help maintain a safe distance for some passengers because they come with sliding doors.
“At Qatar Airways, we have introduced these additional safety measures onboard our flights to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of our passengers and cabin crew, and to limit the spread of coronavirus,” explained chief executive Akbar Al Baker.
“As an airline, we maintain the highest possible hygiene standards to ensure that we can fly people home safely during this time and provide even greater reassurance that safety is our number one priority,” he continued.
Qatar Airways hopes to increase the number of destinations it serves to 52 by the end of May and then up that number to 80 by the end of June. Baker has, though, warned that it could take several years for demand to fully recover unless a “miracle” were to happen.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.