Qatar Airways has become the first airline in the Middle East to cancel its flights to mainland China – but the Doha-based airline made it clear that the decision wasn’t because it was putting the health and safety of its crew and passengers ahead of business. Instead, it all comes down to new entry restrictions that more and more countries are imposing on anyone (including aircrew) who has been to mainland China.
Citing the “significant operational challenges” created by the new entry restrictions imposed by the likes of the United States, Singapore, as well as Australia, New Zealand and others, Qatar Airways said it would end services to China from Feb 3 until further notice.
“An ongoing review of operations will be conducted weekly with the intention to reinstate the flights as soon as the restrictions are lifted,” read a statement posted to the airline’s website.
Qatar Airways has previously said it was monitoring the novel Coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan and that the “safety and security of our passengers and employees is of the highest importance.”
However, the airline had come in for criticism for failing to supply its crew with protective gloves or surgical masks on “high risk” routes.
Qatar Airways did not react when fellow Oneworld member British Airways became the first European airline to completely pull the plug on its mainland China flights last week. Since then, a slew of other airlines has followed suit, including the likes of Lufthansa, KLM, Air France and Iberia.