When it comes to the safety of its cabin crew, Qatar Airways is taking no chances – it’s issuing them with hazmat suits to wear during in-flight service.
They are part of a raft of measures the airline is introducing from Monday, May 25, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Cabin crew have already been wearing face masks and gloves while onboard but will now wear suits over their uniforms. It will also be mandatory for passengers to wear masks or face coverings and there will be a modified in-flight service.
Qatar Airways is issuing all cabin crew with hazmat suits to wear during in-flight service
For example, business class passengers will have their meals served on a tray instead of a table set up and cutlery will be handed out in a wrap rather than individually to ‘reduce contact between the crew and the passengers’.
The airline says business class Qsuite passengers can display the do not disturb sign and keep the privacy door shut if they want to limit interactions with the crew.
In economy, all meals and cutlery will be served sealed as usual.
Qatar says that all meal service utensils and cutlery are washed with detergents and rinsed with demineralised fresh water at ‘temperatures that kill pathogenic bacteria’.
Large bottles of hand sanitiser will be placed in the galley for use by both passengers and crew, while social areas onboard aircraft have been closed ‘to observe social distancing measures’.
The airline says that it is encouraging social distancing where possible, especially on flights with lighter loads.
It explained: ‘Distancing is also implemented during the boarding process, ensuring passengers are allocated seats far apart from each other.
‘The airline is also encouraging passengers to follow hygiene practices recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), such as regular hand washing and refraining from touching the face.’
How cabin crew on Qatar Airways flights normally look, with signature dark red uniforms
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways says that cabin crew have received training on how to minimise their chances of contracting or spreading the infection.
It explains that they are thermally screened before the departure of flights and after their arrival, and are quarantined and tested if any colleagues or passengers on a flight show any symptoms of infection or test positive for the virus.
The airline has also revised its distribution of cabin crew on flights, sending two groups on short-haul and medium-haul flights – the first to manage the outbound trip, the second to manage the inbound trip.
For long-haul flights, crew members who have to stay overnight in a foreign city can only travel in Qatar Airways-approved transport and must remain in their rooms, limiting human interactions.
The airline said: ‘Qatar Airways continues to implement the highest standards of health and safety. Its aircraft are regularly disinfected using cleaning products recommended by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Health Organisation.
‘Its home airport, Hamad International Airport, has also invested in deploying disinfectant robots, fully autonomous mobile emitting concentrated UV-C light known to be effective in eliminating the majority of infectious microorganisms.
State-owned Qatar Airways is laying off 20 per cent of its workforce and has told employees cabin crew would be made redundant. It has been one of few airlines to continue regular, scheduled flights during the global lockdowns
‘Qatar Airways’ aircraft feature the most advanced air filtration systems, equipped with industrial-size HEPA filters that remove 99.97 per cent of viral and bacterial contaminants from re-circulated air, providing the most effective protection against infection.
‘All the airline’s onboard linen and blankets are washed, dried and pressed at microbial lethal temperatures, while its headsets are removed of ear foams and rigorously sanitised after each flight. These items are then sealed into individual packaging by staff wearing hygienic disposable gloves.’
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr Akbar Al Baker, said: ‘At Qatar Airways, we have introduced these additional safety measures onboard our flights to ensure the continued health and wellbeing of our passengers and cabin crew, and to limit the spread of coronavirus.’
The IATA, the body representing global airlines, earlier this month came out in favour of passengers wearing masks onboard, as debate intensifies over how to get airlines flying while respecting social-distancing rules.
State-owned Qatar Airways is laying off 20 per cent of its workforce and has told employees cabin crew would be made redundant.
It has been one of few airlines to continue regular, scheduled flights during the global lockdowns to contain the novel coronavirus, maintaining services to around 30 destinations.
The airline said this month it would start resuming flights to destinations it had suspended due to the virus outbreak and that it aimed to fly to up to 80 destinations by June.
Those not wearing a face mask inside Qatar risk a fine of 200,000 riyals ($55,000, £45,000) and a maximum prison sentence of three years.