Qatar Airways to cut nearly 20% of its workforce, CEO says

Global airlines are estimated to lose $314bn in passenger revenue this year, as demand for travel slumps across continents

FILE- In this Jan. 15, 2015, file photo, a Qatar Airways jet arriving from Doha, Qatar, approaches the gate at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. On Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, Qatar Airways said it is dropping an attempt to buy a big stake in American Airlines, an audacious bid that had received a chilly reception from American. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)
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Qatar Airways will lay off close to 20 per cent of its workforce as the coronavirus pandemic dampens travel demand around the world, its chief executive has said.
"Unfortunately, we will have to cut nearly 20 per cent of our workforce," Akbar Al Baker told the BBC on Wednesday in an interview that was posted on Twitter.

“It’s a very hard decision because we built this strong team but now for me to let them go, it’s painful but we have no other alternative. All the airlines in the world are suffering massive reduction. We hope things will rebound,” the chief executive said.

Global airlines will lose $314 billion (Dh1.15 trillion) in passenger revenue this year, a 55 per cent drop from 2019, as the rapid spread of the coronavirus and ensuing travel bans continue to hurt the industry, the International Air Transport Association said last month.

The coronavirus outbreak has infected over 4 million people worldwide and killed nearly 300,000 as of Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University tracker. The pandemic has derailed the global economy and brought travel and tourism sector to a grinding halt.

About 25 million jobs in the global aviation sector alone are at risk, according to Iata.

Mr Al Baker questioned the efficacy of social distancing measures for travellers inside planes and said they will not “really work” in containing the spread of coronavirus.

“The only way is to make mandatory use of masks, gloves and make sure that you continuously sanitise yourself,” he said.

Quarantine measures of 14 days for foreign travellers after arriving at the airport “would really destroy the industry, destroy the airport feasibility and their income."