Pre-flight Rapid COVID-19 tests on Flights: Qatar Airways CEO sets shares timeline

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Qatar Airways Staff
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Qatar’s national carrier, Qatar Airways has affirmed its flyers that pre-flight rapid COVID-19 tests would be available by mid-October for its entire fleet. 

Speaking to aviation analyst Alex Macheraso in a World Affairs Councils of America curated online session, Qatar Airways’ Group CEO HE Akbar al-Baker stated that “we will start testing our passengers, a lot of them, hundreds of thousands of them, starting from the middle of this month. So, we want to be at the forefront of giving comfort to passengers that when they travel on Qatar Airways, they are in safe hands.”

“As far as the testing is concerned, again, there are major advancements in testing, which is good news for us as an airline and also good news for countries because they will be able to test people quickly.

“Coming to that, Qatar Airways is already one of the first airlines to have placed a huge order for the rapid tests, which are now out. Roche is one of the pharmaceutical companies that have brought this rapid test. Abbott is another one that has got out a test,” Mr. al-Baker acknowledged.

Qatar Airways’s Group CEO remarked that they had made sure that the airlines had a “Plan B” as the airline industry, and even economies across the globe, grappled against the effects of the health crisis.

“I only realized the magnitude of this pandemic by the end of February. I was not expecting it to be so severe and so drastic, but we had to make sure that if something drastic happens that we had a ‘Plan B’ because I could see that airlines were going to stop operating, airports will start shutting down because of the huge warnings that started to come out of the World Health Organisation.

“So, we had to prepare ourselves. But what I really never expected it to be so severe that it will not only destroy the aviation industry but it will also halt the economy of the world, which is, quite frankly, unprecedented, something that even in our wildest dreams we never expected,” Mr. al-Baker emphasized.

Mr al-Baker was also quick to acknowledge and appreciate American Airlines’ partnership with Qatar Airways, stating that both air carriers have a “strong relationship,” citing it as a “win-win” for both companies. He also said both airlines are constantly “expanding” their relations, and “will continue to do a lot more business together.”

“American Airlines was the first carrier to realize that it was good and in mutual benefit to start working with Qatar Airways.”

“American Airlines was the airline that invited us, together with British Airways, to join One World.

“And we had to work together; there was no other alternative,” said Mr. al-Baker, adding that American Airlines has “a fine team of individuals that are running the airline, and even during the pandemic.”