The requirement for every air traveller to have a Covid-19 vaccination certificate will likely be the new trend with the industry trying to rebound from the severe hit to the global airline industry because of the pandemic, said the CEO of a flagship Middle Eastern airline.
“In the short term, yes, I think that the vaccine passport will be helpful to give confidence both to governments and to the passengers in our industry to start travelling again,” Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said in a television interview.
“I think this will be the trend initially, because the world needs to open people need to have confidence in the air travel,” Al Baker said when he was asked about whether vaccinations will become a “necessity” in order to fly.
“I think this will be a trend that will happen until such a time that people are certain that there is a proper cure, or proper treatment for this very serious pandemic we are facing today,” he added.
Many government and industries have floated the idea of vaccination passports and its proponents have argued that such a measure would make travelling safer. In contrast, critics of the idea have said that such a measure could increase inequality and access for those people who belong to countries that are further behind in their inoculation campaigns.
“In my view, it should be led by IATA (the International Air Transport Association) … I have full confidence that IATA will get into grips with the issues in front of the industry,” the CEO said when asked who should run the vaccination passport process.
The airline has recently launched its first fully Covid-19 vaccinated flight in an A350-1000. This flight has been named as the “flight to nowhere” as it will remain within the Qatari airspace and showcase the new hygiene and safety features which have been adopted by the airline, including its “zero-touch” in-flight entertainment technology. Only those passengers and crew would be allowed on the flight who have had vaccination against Covid-19.
The airline does not yet have plans to mandate that all passengers be vaccinated.
In the spring of 2020, the slump in the global oil prices has severely hit the Gulf countries. However in recent times, there has been a steady rise in crude prices because of combined effect of demand and supply dynamics as well as the extended production cuts that were implemented by the so called OPEC+ oil producing countries – including Saudi Arabia and Russia.
But the general perception that the airline relies on the oil revenue that also sustains Gulf economies was strongly refuted by Al Baker.
“We are a commercial entity, we run on profitability from our passengers, our cargo that we carry, we don’t rely on the prices of oil,” he said. “The only thing that we rely upon (is) to have oil prices that are at a reasonable level, so that it can contribute to our lowering of the operating costs.”
(Adapted from CNBC.com)