While the operations of most of the world’s airlines are partially stalled since the COVID-19 pandemic began early this year, a major carrier in the Middle East has reached a milestone and played an important role in repatriating over 150,000 migrant workers and seafarers, majority of them overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Qatar Airways is working closely with governments and the maritime industry to operate hundreds of chartered and scheduled flights to help bring home migrant workers, the airline said in a statement, adding that more than 80,000 are sea and land-based Filipino workers.
To alleviate their sufferings, Qatar Airways recently established a dedicated Mariner Lounge at Hamad International Airport in Doha to allow the repatriates to relax and enjoy refreshments while they wait for their onward flight. In addition to an international selection of food and beverages, facilities include unlimited high-speed internet connection, shower facilities, a television area, reading materials and a Business Center.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have worked closely with governments and the maritime industry to operate as many flights as possible to facilitate crew changes and to reunite seafarers with their families and loved ones. While other airlines stopped flying, Qatar Airways pledges to remain open for business to facilitate essential business travel. With plans to further expand our network to more than 125 destinations, we will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to continue to be the airline of choice to keep seafarers and the global economy moving,” Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said.
Its commitment to take people home has seen it operate charters for maritime workers to many destinations not previously served by Qatar Airways, including Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Bridgetown, Barbados; Lomé, Togo; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
In addition, Qatar Airways sustained operations throughout the pandemic to many important locations for seafarers, such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Oslo, Sao Paulo, Seoul and Singapore.
With the support of the maritime industry, Qatar Airways was also able to establish scheduled services to Cebu and Clark in the Philippines.