Qatar Airways CEO doubts existence of coronavirus, says aviation shouldn’t be halted

Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al-Baker, probably the airline industry’s most colorful character, has been known to make controversial comments in the past. (AFP)
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Updated 14 March 2020

Qatar Airways CEO doubts existence of coronavirus, says aviation shouldn’t be halted

  • ‘There is no scientific evidence for that. It is just, you know, a fear factor’

DUBAI: Akbar Al-Baker, chief executive of Qatar Airways, has doubted the existence of coronavirus currently affecting 126 countries and territories and has infected more than 132,000 individuals.

“During the incubation period, they say that this virus can be transmitted. There is no scientific evidence for that. It is just, you know, a fear factor,” the controversial airline chief said in an interview with Bloomberg, which was aired February 5 but resurfaced recently when it went viral among social media users.

“For them to do what they did to the Chinese cabin crew ... whoever goes to China cannot now go anywhere else in these countries for the next 14 days. They don’t realize the operational impact it would create on an airline,” Baker said.

“What evidence [do] you have that on every single airplane you do not have three or four people with contagious disease sitting next to you?”

Qatar on Wednesday said 238 new coronavirus cases had been discovered among expatriates quarantined in a residential compound, bringing the total to 262.

The Qatar Airways chief, probably the airline industry’s most colorful character, has been known to make controversial comments in the past, including claims that unions “made companies and institutions uncompetitive and bringing them to a position of not being efficient.”

Baker also received flak when he claimed the Doha-based airline’s contracts were not restrictive, particularly against women. Qatar Airways earlier faced accusations its female cabin crew members experienced discrimination, including being banned from marriage during the first five years of their contract and routinely being fired if they became pregnant.


Oil falls as rising virus cases overshadow demand recovery

An oil tanker ship at a port in Burgas, Bulgaria. Most market participants expect more downward pressure on oil, with COVID-19 ravaging the landscape. (Shutterstock)
Updated 05 August 2020

Oil falls as rising virus cases overshadow demand recovery

  • Declines come after WTI rose 1.8% and Brent climbed 1.5% on Monday; renewed lockdowns weigh on prices

LONDON: Oil prices eased on Tuesday on concerns that a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections will hamper a global demand recovery just as major producers ramp up output.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 67 cents, or 1.6 percent, at $40.34 a barrel, while Brent crude dropped 71 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $43.44.
The declines come after WTI rose 1.8 percent and Brent climbed 1.5 percent on Monday on better than expected data on manufacturing activity in Asia, Europe and the United States.
News from Asia and Europe is adding to concerns that the infection crisis may be spreading in a global second wave, not just in the United States and Brazil, said Paola Rodriguez Masiu of Rystad Energy.

HIGHLIGHTS

• News from Asia and Europe is adding to concerns that the infection crisis may be spreading in a global second wave, not just in the United States and Brazil, said Paola Rodriguez Masiu of Rystad Energy.

• Producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, together known as OPEC+, are raising output this month, adding about 1.5 million barrels per day of supply.

• Analysts estimate that US refined product stockpiles rose last week, according to a preliminary poll ahead of data from the American Petroleum Institute and the US government on Wednesday.

Denting fuel demand, cities from Manila to Melbourne are tightening lockdowns to battle new infections, while Norway has stopped cruise ship traffic in the latest European travel alarm.
In a further sign of a patchy rebound in demand, analysts estimate that US refined product stockpiles rose last week, according to a preliminary Reuters poll ahead of data from the American Petroleum Institute and the US government on Wednesday.
At the same time, producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, together known as OPEC+, are raising output this month, adding about 1.5 million barrels per day of supply. US producers also plan to restart shut-in production.
“Most oil market participants expect more downward pressure on oil ... with COVID-19 ravaging the landscape and OPEC+ adding more barrels into play,” said Stephen Innes, Chief Global Markets Strategist at AxiCorp.