Qatar Airways said they repatriated over 8,500 passengers back to the UK from Pakistan and India during the first lockdown.

During a two-week period between April and May, the airline arranged 32 repatriation flights from the countries.

Speaking to Asian Image UK Country Manager, Gary Kershaw said, “It was a very intense period for us. We worked with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and set out with the intention to take people home.”

During the lockdown there were 11 flights from Islamabad, Pakistan, 8 flights from Amritsar, India 5 from Lahore, Pakistan and Ahmedabad, India and one from Delhi, India and Karachi, Pakistan.

He said prices were dictated by demands. At the time many customers had noted the huge price hikes and families were being forced to pay thousands to return to the UK.

Mr Kershaw said, “With 85 per cent of flights one-way the price was dictated by demand. As much as we would want to be but we are not a charitable business and we simply to trying to recover our costs.

“As demand accelerates we are no different to any other airline. We did not expect to see such a high demand.”

In August, the said airline increased its services to Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar and until this week was operating 49 weekly flights to four gateways in Pakistan.

Mr Kershaw said the changing nature of government guidelines was having a major impact on flying with the industry had seen a 95 per cent drop in business. However, Qatar Airways reported extremely low numbers of COVID-19 cases on board its aircraft after operating more than 4.6 million passengers. The carrier said has stringently implemented ‘the most advanced safety and hygiene measures on board its aircraft’.

Qatar Airways’ onboard safety measures for passengers and cabin crew include the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for cabin crew and a complimentary protective kit and disposable face shields for passengers.

Mr Kershaw said, “As soon as the lockdown was announced we went to maximum safety pretty quickly and full PPE was available to all our staff.

“We have had a low amount of Covid-19 cases.

“As you be aware flights are being sold 24 hours a day and people are were still picking the most popular times to travel.

“We are still outperforming the market.”

In August Qatar Airways said it had paid out over $1.2 billion in refunds to almost 600,000 passengers since March. The airline was processing all new refunds back to the original form of payment in less than 30 days.

Mr Kershaw added, “We are still offering a full refund and we did this from the start.”