Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, has a problem with social distancing and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The eccentric CEO is never one to mince words…
Qatar Airways’ Al Baker on Prime Minster Johnson
Speaking to Sky News, Al Baker argued Johnson is talking out of both sides of his mouth by encouraging people to travel while introducing new quarantine measures that make little economic or scientific sense.
“Your prime minister’s encouraging people to travel.
“So I think it was a bit unwise for him to introduce quarantine when he actually requires people to come and start visiting the UK and fueling the economic and business resurgence in the United Kingdom.
“I don’t think that it was a really good idea to introduce quarantine at the tail end of the pandemic.
“In my opinion, they should have been introduced in the beginning, and not at the end.”
Such sentiment is hardly unique to Al Baker. In fact, British Airways, EasyJet, and Ryanair have teamed up to seek legal redress against the UK government for exactly the same reasons.
Qatar Airways is currently the world’s largest international carrier and so this is not just a pundit pontificating, but a serious indictment.
Al Baker on Social Distancing
Speaking of social distancing, Al Baker emphasized masks and gloves provide far more protection without destroying the economics of running an airline:
“Social distancing is really not necessary in an airplane.
“If that is implemented, the prices for air travel go will go up extremely, because you’ll be carrying a 30-40% load factor on an airplane.
“You have the possibility to infect somebody else, by touch, or by rubbing into each other when you’re going back to your seats.
“So I think that social distancing really should not be implemented in an airplane as long as you’re going to take all the precautions you need – masks, gloves – and in Qatar Airways we are also supplying face shields and fully clad PPE for cabin crew.
“We are taking all the mitigating factors to make sure that the air is still the safest way to travel.”
Open middle seats are nice from a passenger comfort level, but the notion that masks are more effective is not really all that controversial. Still, it marks a departure from some airlines, like Delta Air Lines in the USA, that have chosen to continue to block middle seats.
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Social distancing and Johnson were just two issues touched on during an extensive interview with Sky News. You can watch the full interview here.
While Al Baker can sometimes be brash and abrasive in his comments, his stances on the UK Government and on onboard social distancing hardly seem unreasonable.
image: Qatar Airways