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Coronavirus: Qatar Airways warns of 'substantial' job losses

State-owned airline said last month it was burning through its cash reserves and would be seeking government aid
The airline said in March some staff would have their wages halved for at least three months though would be later paid back (Reuters)

Qatar Airways is planning to cut a significant number of jobs because travel has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and told cabin crew to prepare for redundancies.

The state-owned airline, one of only a few global carriers still operating scheduled services, said in March it was burning through its cash reserves and would eventually seek government aid.

“We have to face a new reality, where many borders are closed, rendering many of our destinations closed and aircraft grounded as a result, with no foreseeable outlook for immediate, positive change,” Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said in the notice to cabin crew dated Monday seen by Reuters.

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“The truth is, we simply cannot sustain the current numbers and we need to make a substantial number of jobs redundant - inclusive of cabin crew.”

A Qatar Airways spokesman confirmed that a number of people were being made redundant due to the impact of COVID-19.

"The unparalleled impact on our industry has caused significant challenges for all airlines and we must act decisively to protect the future of our business," the spokesman told Reuters.

Neither the notice or the spokesman said how many jobs would be cut.

A Qatar Airways spokesman had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters outside of normal business hours on Tuesday.

Temporary housing

Affected employees would be paid their contractual dues and any owed overtime, the notice said, and those who are not able to immediately return to their home countries would be provided with housing and a living allowance until such a return was possible.

The airline said last month some staff would have their wages halved for at least three months though would be later paid back.

Qatar Airways Group, which counts the airline among its assets, had 46,684 employees at the end of its last reported financial year in March 2019.

Rivals Emirates and Etihad Airways have temporarily slashed wages as they try to weather the crisis, while budget carrier Air Arabia earlier on Tuesday said it had laid off 57 employees.