Airlines’ Covid-19 hygiene and safety standards has been recognised by an industry association.
Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Air Canada are among carriers gaining certification.
The ‘Diamond Standard’ status was handed out by the Airline Passenger Experience Association’s (APEX) health and safety audit.
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “We welcome the further recognition of Qatar Airways’ commitment to providing the most rigorous and stringent virus monitoring, detection and Covid-19 safety programme throughout our end-to-end passenger experience, in existence within the global aviation community.
“The awarding of the APEX health safety ‘Diamond Standard’ was the result of a thorough and extensive independent audit of the airline’s comprehensive Covid-19 protection and prevention measures, both on board and at Hamad International airport, and reinforces the fact that air travel does not need to be a source of concern to passengers.
“As commercial aviation continues to deal with the challenges and impact of the global pandemic, we welcome the introduction of this and other relevant Covid-related hygiene and safety reviews, and would encourage other airlines to continue to build passenger confidence and assist with the recovery of the industry by participating wherever possible.”
APEX chief executive Dr Joe Leader said: “Qatar Airways’ Covid-19 protocols definitively met the highest marks for the Diamond certification level backed by their extraordinary steps for customer safety.
“The actions taken by Qatar appear centered around a singular philosophy – how can we innovatively maximise both our customer service and passenger safety hand-in-hand.
“Having flown recently on Qatar Airways with my family to the Maldives after negative Covid-19 PCR tests, the level of health safe service both in-flight and on-the-ground surpassed my highest expectations and even surpassed our best-ever pre-pandemic experience on the airline.”
In-flight safety measures include the provision of PPE for cabin crew, free protective kits and disposable face shields for passengers, advanced air filtration and a new ultraviolet cabin system as a further step in the cleaning of its aircraft.
Qatar Airways currently operates more than 800 weekly flights to 110 destinations.
The airline plans to rebuild its network to 129 points by the end of March, with many cities being served with at least daily frequencies.
Etihad Aviaition Group executive director guest experience, brand and marketing, Terry Daly, said: “2020 brought tremendous challenges to the aviation industry, and the Diamond status is testament to the strength of Etihad’s health and safety credentials and response to the pandemic.
“Etihad has demonstrated its resilience and designed industry-leading measures to combat Covid-19, including the Etihad Wellness programme.
“As part of its efforts, Etihad is the only airline in the world to make Covid-19 testing mandatory before every flight, and since August 2020, 100% of our guests have tested negative before they fly.”
Air Canada safety vice president Smauel Elfassy said: “Considerable efforts have been made to ensure the safety of our employees and customers.
“From the outset, we implemented a crisis management committee, still in place today, that oversees the effective functioning of all our existing health protocols.
“Air Canada has been a leader in introducing new science-based measures in response to Covid-19, such as introducing at the very beginning of the pandemic, its comprehensive biosafety programme, Air Canada CleanCare+.
“We reimagined everything from the check-in process, baggage handling, in-flight services, mandatory face-coverings, pre-flight temperature and expanded grooming procedures.”