Returning the airline industry to full strength should be a key priority to boost the global economic outlook as failure to do so will result in many airlines going under, warns Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.
In an interview on CNN’s Quest Means Business, Al Baker discussed the challenges facing the airline industry amid the coronavirus pandemic:
“By the time this pandemic is over, there will only be few airlines that are strong and will continue operating. A lot of other airlines will go under. And this will continue to happen, because we have not seen the worst of it over yet.”
“If this pandemic prolongs for too long, this will completely destroy the world's economy which is so dependent on airlines for delivering business, carrying freight around, and most importantly creating jobs.”
Al BAker showed CNN’s Richard Quest the safety precautions that the airline is taking at Hamad International Airport in Doha and on board its planes. These include high-tech temperature sensors, ultraviolet disinfectant processes, and mask-wearing on flights.
“I can assure you as the CEO of an airline, my biggest priority is to protect my passengers and my crew. All the precautions we have taken and the measurements we take, infections on airplanes is minimal,” he said.
Al Baker spoke about the process of asking the company’s shareholders – the Qatari government – for a cash injection during the pandemic, “I couldn't just jump the queue and go and tell my boss, the ruler of my country, that our situation is so dire, and this is what we need. Because I am sure there were a lot of other people in the queue before me telling him the same thing.”
The CEO also spoke about access to vaccinations and mitigating the risks amid slow vaccine rollouts in some countries. He told Quest: “It will be a problem for the aviation industry. And we will have to work a way within these risks that we will have to take. But we will have to do things, we'll have to put processes, we'll have to put systems in place to mitigate that risk.”
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