Qatar Airways Cargo today (01FEB21) unveiled the second chapter of its WeQare sustainability initiative, and the focus this time is on wild animals. “Rewild the Planet” is the title given to Chapter Two, and with it, Qatar Airways Cargo has pledged “to fly wild animals back to where they belong, at no cost”. CFG spoke to Guillaume Halleux (GH) about Qatar Airways Cargo in general, how WeQare has been running so far, and what is still to come.
CFG: In 2015, we ran an article on Qatar Airways Cargo, when it became the third largest cargo airline worldwide. In
2019, you listed second behind FedEx, and in JUN20, STAT Times proclaimed Qatar in first position. What are the secrets of Qatar Airways Cargo's success?
GH: Our mantra for success is keeping customers at the heart of everything we do. All our innovations, investments, and strategy revolve around the customer and how we can best support their
business. This, coupled with our strategic investments in fleet, digitalization, and network, has helped us rise to the top and we owe all of this to our customers and dedicated teams. Qatar
Airways Cargo’s market share in CTKs as published by IATA increased from 6.8% pre-COVID to 8.5% by the end of 2020.
We remain focused on customer service and strong commercial preference because if you do that, then when the market is good you get the better yield, and when the market is down you are the last one to be cut.
Even throughout the pandemic, operating passenger aircraft for cargo-only flights, putting lightweight packages on the seats, optimizing freight capacity on passenger flights, maintaining our freighter network sometimes at a loss, etc. – we did the highest flying of any airline in the world and it has enabled us to maintain sufficient cargo capacity, allowing our customers to continue their activities.
We are in the people industry and this is something we always remember.
CFG: Qatar currently appears to be on a hiring spree given the number of LinkedIn posts these past few weeks. Is this all part of expansion or replacement of positions? What is the 2021
strategy in terms of manpower?
GH: The demand in cargo and the logistics industry is still growing and that is creating new employment opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the importance of air cargo and its vital role, casting it into the spotlight. Having said that, the industry is quite competitive, and we are always looking for the best talent to match the growth and development of Qatar Airways Cargo.
We see other organizations cutting cargo staff – which is good for us as we are recruiting for 200 positions at the moment. Investing is the right thing to do in moments of crisis and will give us an edge on the market when this is over. I cannot understand why you would not strengthen your cargo teams now.
CFG: WeQare was launched just six months ago with Chapter One, as CFG then reported. When did the idea for the WeQare company initiative come about? What triggered it? And how long was the entire project in the making prior to the launch of Chapter One?
GH: More than mere words, we wanted to act and adopt a comprehensive approach based on actions positively affecting the future. Our intention is to build and contribute to a sustainable future and business. The leadership team of Qatar Airways Cargo came together to brainstorm a number of ideas on how we could make sustainability applicable to our everyday life, through a series of concrete actions designed for the industry.
Hence, partly triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and given that sustainability is top of our agenda, WeQare was launched in the summer of 2020. Through the first chapter – “1 Million Kilos”, 1 million kilos of capacity were donated to selected customers who then allocated these to the charities of their choice to transport humanitarian aid, medical supplies, and PPE. We were glad to involve our customers in this worthwhile initiative and we received a good buy in.
CFG: "‘We Qare’ is a long-term sustainability project with no end date," you stated at the time. Chapter Two begins today. How many chapters have already been outlined, and what does the roll-out plan look like?
Yes, indeed it is a long-term program which has just started, and we have launched two chapters already. Created in partnership with our teams who are the driving force behind the chapters, the program revolves around the core pillars of Sustainability (economy, environment, society, and culture). There are a number of chapters already outlined and few of them deal with reducing carbon footprint, promoting equality and diversity to name a few.
Additional chapters will be rolled out in the course of 2021. There is no end date and no limited number of chapters. We are very concerned about the legacy we will leave to future generations and would like to be instrumental in shaping it, as long as necessary.
CFG: How have Qatar Airways Cargo employees embraced the WeQare initiative? What success stories are there within the company that you can share with us? How are they encouraged to adopt the WeQare initiative?
GH: The sustainability program WeQare is close to every employee’s heart and is prepared keeping staff involvement in mind. Our employees are very passionate about it as it brings about a sense of fulfilment since every chapter is actually a positive sustainability-focused action that affects our future. Our employees are the ones who enabled the transportation of 1 million kilos, and they will be the force behind the transport of wild animals for Chapter Two. Good deeds and noble initiatives always have a ripple effect, and we are seeing that WeQare is already generating a lot of interest across our organization and industry. The program is designed to be dynamic and ‘work in progress’ and as such is capable of adapting to meet needs, address developments, and target our priorities. Our future chapters will also have a focus on staff involvement, and we will reveal more details in the coming months.
CFG: How did Chapter One work out? What were the results? Is it still running?
Chapter One was overall a strong success story. However, and much to our surprise, some forwarders did not participate. Those who did, though, participated with much enthusiasm; so much so, that a number of freight forwarders and ground handlers were even offering their door-to-door service free of charge, be it customs processing, or pick-up, or delivery. It generated such a buy-in, that everybody wanted to do something and help. It allowed our customers to send much needed aid to impacted regions and countries, working with charities of their choice. We transported various types of cargo on their behalf, with a heavy focus on PPE - the high demand cargo at the peak of the crisis. This only goes to prove that cargo is not about boxes and tonnages, but about real people working together to help others in a time of need.
Chapter One concluded at the end of 2020; we have just launched Chapter Two and are looking forward to the other exciting chapters that are still to come.
CFG: Tell us about Chapter Two, please.
Chapter Two has launched today, 01FEB21, and is called “Rewild the Planet”. Rewild is a word used throughout conservation efforts; it refers to ecological restoration. Animals have an important role to play in preserving the ecological balance which ensures the stability of the environment. Through our second chapter, we are offering free transport to rescued wild animals, to bring them back to their natural habitat.
As an inaugural signatory to the Buckingham Palace Declaration in March 2016, and a founding member of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, Qatar Airways has a zero tolerance policy towards the illegal trade of endangered wildlife, and our initiative of bringing wildlife back to their natural habitat is consistent with the airline’s commitment to fighting wildlife trafficking and the illegal trade of wild animals.
This is a cause very close to our heart.
Thank you, Guillaume Halleux! We will be interested to when and how these animal transportations take place, how Chapter Two unfolds, and what is next on the agenda.
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