Qatar Airways to increase Doha flights from Edinburgh

Passengers now have to wear face shields as well as masks on board.

Qatar is one of the first airlines to require passengers to wear face shields.

Qatar Airways plans to boost flights to its Middle East hub in Doha from Edinburgh in August and September after becoming the first airline to resume long-haul services from Scotland two weeks ago.

The carrier currently operates two flights a week, which it said would rise to at least three from 1 August and potentially five.

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Qatar then hopes to resume daily flights from September.

Qatar Airways cabin crew now use protective gowns after wearing full PPE suits for a time.

The moves come as Emirates resumed Glasgow-Dubai flights today, which are due to increase from four times a week to daily from 1 August and twice daily from 1 September.

‘Quite empty’

Qatar’s chief strategy and transformation officer Thierry Antinori told The Scotsman today its flights into Edinburgh were “reasonably busy” but those from Edinburgh to Doha were “quite empty”.

However, he said cargo being carried on the flights was bringing in additional revenue to help make them viable.

Qatar Airways provides one-stop connections between Edinburgh and destinations in Asia and Australia.

This includes salmon, clothes and oil and gas equipment exports from Scotland and consumer goods imports.

Mr Antinori said: "We are flying twice a week to Edinburgh at this stage and at least three times a week from August.

“As soon as the demand increases, we will operate more.

"We expect more demand into Scotland and out of Scotland, and if the demand would enable us to do a daily service from September, we would do that.”

Health experts believe shields provide an extra layer of protection.

He said passengers were mainly people visiting family and friends, or returning to live in Scotland.

Popular destinations included Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, which are not on the Scottish Government’s 14-day quarantine list, along with Pakistan and Singapore, which require quarantine on return to Scotland.

However, the Scottish Government indicated that passengers flying to Scotland from non-quarantine countries would not be exempt from having to isolate if they travelled via Middle East hub airports such as Doha and Dubai.

A spokesperson said: “If an individual travelling from an exempt country transits through a non-exempt country, they would generally lose that exemption unless they remained on the plane and no passengers get on, or they remained separate from all other passengers in the terminal and left on the plane only with the passengers that they arrived with.”

Face shields

Qatar is one of a very few airlines which now require passengers to wear face shields, or visors, as well as masks or coverings.

Health experts said they provided an extra layer of protection and helped prevent droplets getting into eyes.

They also prevent people touching their face.

Smaller face shields are available for children.

However, no seats are left empty between passengers not travelling together if flights are busy.

Airlines have said air flow through the cabin and air cleaning, plus seats acting as a barrier, reduces the risk of the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Antinori said there had been only five coronavirus cases among the 155,000 passengers which Qatar had carried since February.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “It was great to see our Doha route with Qatar Airways becoming Scotland’s first long-haul route to resume.

"We’re now seeing more flights beginning to operate which is a very encouraging sign for the industry.

“Aviation is looking to rebuild and the situation remains fluid, which is why we’re continuing to work with our airline partners to ensure the airport is ready to accommodate any schedule changes.”

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