Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience…
Qatar Airways operated the world’s first fully vaccinated flight on Tuesday morning during a short ‘flight to nowhere’ which departed Doha International Airport at 11am and landed back exactly where it started just three hours later. All of the cabin crew and pilots were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and so too were all the passengers onboard Qatar Airways flight QR6421.
The government-owned Qatari national carrier beat arch-rival Emirates to operate the first fully vaccinated flight by just four days. Emirates will operate its own ‘flight to nowhere’ with only vaccinated crew and passengers onboard on April 10 – although the Dubai-based airline is struggling to sell $544 tickets for the one-off service.
Qatar Airways didn’t, however, beat another regional rival in fully vaccinating its cabin crew and pilots. Etihad Airways has only been using inoculated flight crew since February 10 on all of its services following a rapid and highly successful vaccination programme in its home of Abu Dhabi.
Emirates also claims to have vaccinated 35,000 staffers, including around 85 per cent of all pilots and cabin crew.
In contrast, Qatar Airways has said very little about its plans to vaccinate employees and on Tuesday the airline didn’t confirm how many staff have actually been vaccinated so far. Qatar’s vaccine rollout has been slower than the United Arab Emirates and health authorities have prioritised older and more vulnerable adults.
On Tuesday, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker, however, said that aircrew were now being inoculated and that 1,000 vaccine doses were being administered per day.
“Today’s special flight demonstrates the next stage in the recovery of international travel is not far away,” Al Baker commented. “We are proud to continue leading the industry by operating the first flight with a fully vaccinated crew and passengers and providing a beacon of hope for the future of international aviation.”
“As the vaccine rollout begins to gather pace worldwide, Qatar Airways remains committed to being the airline passengers and travel partners can rely on, operating one of the largest global networks to provide the connectivity needed to reunite families and friends and support global trade,” he continued.
Al Baker also said that the airline’s cargo division has so far shipped more than 20 million doses of vaccine to around 20 countries, and 500,000 tonnes of medical supplies have been moved by the airline throughout the pandemic.
Tuesday’s flight was designed to showcase Qatar Airways’ efforts to protect crew and passengers but there aren’t currently any plans to make vaccination a condition of travel. Nor are there any current plans to relax face mask and social distancing rules, although this might be reexamined as the worldwide vaccination rollout continues.
So far, only Australian flag carrier Qantas has suggested that it will insist that passengers are vaccinated for international services – once they resume in October.
Mateusz Maszczynski is a serving international flight attendant with experience at a major Middle East and European airline. Mateusz is passionate about the aviation industry and helping aspiring flight attendants achieve their dreams. Cabin crew recruitment can be tough, ultra-competitive and just a little bit confusing - Mateusz has been there and done that. He's got the low down on what really works.