Qatar Airways has declared that it is now the world’s largest carrier. The airline stated that its continued operations through the current crisis has meant that it has now secured the top spot.
Many airlines significantly curtailed operations as a result of the crisis that has crippled the aviation industry. Some airlines went a step further and suspended scheduled operations altogether.
However, while downsizing its operations, Qatar Airways has ensured that a network of vital connections remained open for those who needed them.
Due to its continued operations throughout the current crisis, Qatar Airways believes that is is now the world’s largest carrier. This is as the airline has helped over 1.8 million passengers to return home, wherever in the world that may be.
Indeed, during the current crisis, Qatar Airways has operated over 15,000 flights that have traveled a combined distance of over 50 million kilometers. Simple Flying’s Chris Loh traveled on one such trip.
Commenting on the achievement in a statement sent to Simple Flying, the Qatar Airways Group CEO, Akbar al-Baker, said
“During this crisis more passengers have chosen to fly with Qatar Airways than any other airline, and we appreciate the trust they have placed in us… We have been here 24/7 during the darkest days and will continue to be a friend in need as confidence returns and people restart their travel plans.”
In addition to the vast passenger mission, Qatar’s cargo division has been working non-stop to distribute medical aid across the world. Since the start of the crisis, the carrier has transported more than 175,000 tonnes of aid to impacted regions, with more to follow.
Previous largest carriers
The title of the largest carrier has been moving around a fair bit since the current crisis began. According to IATA, in 2018 the four of the top five airlines based on passenger traffic were all US carriers:
- Southwest Airlines – 164 million passengers
- Delta Air Lines – 152 million passengers
- American Airlines – 148 million passengers
- Ryanair – 136 million passengers
- United Airlines – 133 million passengers
- China Southern – 103 million passengers
- China Eastern – 96 million passengers
Around a month ago, we reported that China Eastern had claimed the top spot from Southwest Airlines.
Since the current crisis began to unfurl, Qatar Airways has remained flying. The airline did substantially cut its operations. Indeed, its entire Airbus A380 fleet has now been grounded. However, even at its lowest point, the airline was still operating to more than 30 destinations.
As Hamad International Airport remained open for transit passengers, many more routes became possible. Indeed, Qatar even flew to some destinations such as Brisbane for the very first time.
Qatar was also one of the first airlines to mandate full PPE for its crew. This sees those working in the cabin donning full-body suits, masks, glasses, and gloves. Most other airlines are only mandating that crew wear face masks.
Now, Qatar Airways is heavily invested in rebuilding its operations. While it will take a long time before things return to normal, the airline is planning a phased approach to resuming flights, pending individual governments lifting the necessary restrictions. By the end of June, it hopes to have expanded its network to include a total of 80 destinations across the world.
The airline recently launched its codeshare agreement with American Airlines, meaning that many more destinations in America will soon be possible for those connecting in Qatar.