Qatar Airways resumes Edinburgh-Doha flights to get people home
The airline has resumed four flights a week between the Scottish capital and its Doha hub days after temporarily suspending them because of expected falling demand.
Qatar said its flights were nearly full but passengers were more concerned about getting back than social distancing.
The airline said it was currently operating some 150 flights a day between 70 cities overall - around a third of its normal network.
It expects to carry 100,000 passengers this week and more next week.
Chief commercial officer Simon Talling-Smith said: “It’s quite clear to us there is a strong desire from people right around the world to get home.
“It’s a very human need to be at home at a time of crisis.
“We are doing the best we can to help these people.”
Returning passengers to the UK include from destinations in south east Asia, Bali and Thailand.
However, the Edinburgh flights have also enabled people to return home from Scotland, including a group from the Philippines.
Mr Talling-Smith said flights were too full to keep people apart, but aircraft were frequently and thoroughly cleaned.
Passengers and crew were temperature tested before boarding and anyone with symptoms of the virus was barred from flying.
Mr Talling-Smith said a “tiny” number of staff had tested positive for Covid-19, but declined to give numbers.
He said: “Most people are just wanting to get home.
“It’s a matter of getting as many people back as quickly as we can.”
The airline official said Qatar planned to keep part of its network operating throughout the crisis because there would always be people who needed to travel for family or work reasons.
But not all routes, such as Edinburgh, would be retained during the pandemic if demand dropped.
Qatar operated the Edinburgh route daily this winter and planned ten flights a week this summer.