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Qatar Airways Cargo is offering to move one million kilos of humanitarian freight free of charge between now and the end of the year.
With air freight rates currently between $1.50 and $7 per kg, depending on the lane, the move could cost it dearly – although the past three months should at least have shored up its cargo department’s coffers somewhat.
Charities will be able to use the carrier’s free service to move humanitarian aid and medical supplies, in an offer the airline said was ‘unprecedented’.
“This action was triggered by the Covid-19 crisis,” said Guillaume Halleux, chief officer cargo at Qatar Airways. “The pandemic is a tragedy for millions of people, and we looked for ways how we, as an airline, could help those in the greatest difficulty.
“This solution – shipping 1 million kilos of cargo free of charge – is a firm commitment for QR Cargo. More than just words; we wanted to act and to adopt a comprehensive approach based on actions for the future.”
The initiative is the first part of a sustainability project by the airline called ‘We Qare’, which will take a series of “concrete air cargo actions designed to create a positive impact on the industry and the world”.
QR says it is time for the airfreight industry to change in line with new global challenges, and that it is pioneering a “future, sustainable and socially responsible air cargo industry”.
The news will be welcomed by humanitarian shippers. Recent months have seen air freight rates soar, mostly as governments rushed to bring in PPE for their populations, chartering aircraft at any cost.
Both airlines and shipping lines have been accused of profiteering during the crisis, although airlines have faced financial ruin and shipping lines have faced chronically low rates and losses over many years.
Qatar Airways has said it would postpone new aircraft deliveries and has shed some staff, as it grapples with the new reality of a slimmed-down aviation market.