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Coronavirus: Qatar pulls China flights – crew issues

Coronavirus: Qatar pulls China flights – crew issues

Qatar Airways has announced that, like an increasing list of airlines, they are pulling out of scheduled China flights.

Why?

The reason stated is similar to that used by Qantas, which is about the difficulties of scheduling crew for the China flights, due to the range of restrictions countries like the USA and Australia are implementing in contradiction to advice issued by the World Health Education.

“We have been placed in a challenging operational situation where the airline cannot continue with its global operations as a result of these restrictions on anyone who has visited China. If we continue operations, the significant numbers of crew who would have travelled to China, would be limited to operate on certain flights, reducing our operational effectiveness. We will immediately resume our operations to China once the governmental restrictions are lifted.”

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker

Qatar Airways flies to a number of destinations in China, including Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Shanghai. Flights are being suspended until further notice, but with this decision being reviewed on a regular basis as the coronavirus crisis evolves.

Qantas flight out of Wuhan

Qantas, as we speak, is boarding a rescue flight 747 out of Wuhan to Darwin in Australia with 270 people on board. Fortunately, they will no longer have to pay the previously announced AU$1,000 fee. From there, most passengers will be quarantined in an old immigration detention centre on Christmas Island, and after 14 days will be distributed back to their home cities across Australia.

2PAXfly Takeout

With increasing restrictions implemented by countries, including isolating any passengers coming from China, or specifically Wuhan and Hubei Province, I can understand the difficulties airlines are having.

I presume that airline crews – despite rigorous health safeguards – must be in two minds about such flights too. Although Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has stated that they had more volunteer crew for the flight to/from Wuhan than they needed.

I would also think that demand from passengers is waning, if not unpredictable, so it is understandable with all these difficulties – crew, passenger demand, health concerns, and logistic challenges, airlines are suspending flights to mainland China for the immediate future.

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