Qatar Airways has announced that 90 percent of its flights are departing within 15 minutes of their scheduled departure, despite the presence of an overflight blockade imposed on Qatar by a group of neighboring Persian Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. Those countries, along with Libya and Yemen, severed diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier this month over its alleged ties to Iran and terrorism.
“Qatar Airways’ global operations continue to run smoothly, with the vast majority of our network unaffected by the current circumstances,” said airline president Akbar Al Baker. “Our focus is on supporting any passengers impacted by the current situation and ensuring that we continue to deliver our award-winning service. As far as we are concerned it is business as usual.”
In light of the blockade, Qatar has significantly bolstered its global call center operations and social media engagement to ensure its customers are well informed, and has made changes to its ticketing policies to provide passengers with greater flexibility for refunds and rebooking for flights that are affected by the travel bans. The airline has also introduced new functionality on Facebook to provide call-back options.
As for the legality of the blockade, which has caused the carrier to institute extensive flight rerouting, Al Akbar noted his airline is not a political body and calls the action unprecedented. “It is in direct contradiction to the convention that guarantees rights to civil overflight,” he stated. “We call upon the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO] to declare this an illegal act.”
Earlier this week, the airline released its annual report for Fiscal Year 2017 showing a net profit of $541 million, which equates to a more-than 20 percent increase year-over-year, along with an annual revenue increase of 10.4 percent.