Qatar Airways’ chief executive has said that the airline must lay off almost 20% of its entire workforce because of the impact of the coronavirus.
"Unfortunately, we will have to cut nearly 20% of our workforce," Akbar Al Baker said in a BBC interview on Wednesday.
He said that the figure was nearly equal to the amount of aeroplanes the airline will not fly over the next three years.
“It’s a very hard decision because we built this strong team but now for me to let them go, it’s painful but we have no other alternative,” Mr Al Baker said.
“All the airlines in the world are suffering massive reduction. We hope things will rebound.”
He added that it is difficult to predict when the market will begin to recover.
Airlines in the Middle East region will lose out on more than $20 billion of revenues this year while the global figure currently sits at around $314 billion, a 55% reduction on 2019.
Travel bans resulting from the coronavirus has caused demand for air travel to evaporate and carriers are having to take drastic measures to save costs, including laying off employees and reducing salaries.
There are fears that 14-day quarantine measures introduced when borders begin to open will further impact the demand for travel and delay the aviation industry’s recovery.
Mr Al Baker said such measures “would really destroy the industry, destroy the airport feasibility and their income”.