The Covid crisis has cost Qatar Airways more than £900 million in refunds alone since the pandemic grounded flights.
The carrier, owned by the natural gas and oil-rich state, said it had paid out £914 million so far, having dealt with 96% of requests made since March, with another third of customers opting for credits with the airline.
It said it had dealt with more than 10,000 refund requests at the height of the crisis, but all new refunds were now being processed within 30 days.
Customers are now able to request refunds online; while voucher requests are also automated, meaning they can be received within 72 hours. Vouchers are worth 110% of original ticket value.
Trade refunds are made via the GDS. “Although Qatar Airways is now seeing a decrease in the number of refund requests, it remains committed to honouring its policies to passengers and trade partners,” the carrier said.
Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker added: “The amount we have paid out in refunds has undoubtedly had an impact on our bottom line, but it is our duty to do the right thing by our customers and trade partners and as an airline we are strong enough to mitigate the impact of this.”
Qatar Airways tickets are now valid for two years from the date of issue. Passengers can change travel date or destination free of charge multiple times, change their origin to another city within the same country or to any other destination on the airline’s network within a 5,000 mile radius of the original. There is also the option to convert the ticket price to frequent flier points.
The airline said 36% of its passengers selected one of these options over a refund.
The carrier is flying 79 long-haul aircraft, but has grounded its Airbus A380s as “not commercially or environmentally justifiable” in the current market.