Qatar Airways has strengthened its commitment to combating smuggling of wildlife and related products by expanding its participation in the USAID ROUTES (Reducing Opportunities for the Illegal Transport of Endangered Animal Species Program) partnership.
Qatar Airways, a founding member of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, signed the historic Buckingham Palace Declaration in 2016, which aims to take real action to close routes that are exploited by illegal wildlife traders. Then in May 2017, the airline renewed its signature on the first Memorandum of Understanding with the ROUTES Partnership. In May 2019, Qatar Airways became the first airline in the world to be certified for the Illicit Wildlife Trade (IWT) Assessment. The IWT Assessment certification confirms that Qatar Airways has procedures, staff training and reporting protocols to monitor and control the trafficking of illegal wildlife products.
The Illicit Wildlife Trade (IWT) Assessment was developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the support of ROUTES as part of IEnvA – IATA's environmental management and assessment system for airlines. Compliance with IWT IEnvA Standards and Recommended Practices (ESARPs) demonstrates that airlines signing the United for Wildlife Buckingham Palace Declaration have implemented the relevant commitments within the Declaration.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “The illegal wildlife trade threatens our global biodiversity and poses a major risk to ecological health and safety. We are taking measures to disrupt this illegal trade game in order to protect biodiversity and maintain the world's sensitive ecosystem. We agreed with other aviation industry leaders to highlight our zero-tolerance policy against illegal trade in wildlife and related products and joined the ROUTES Partnership by saying 'Don't Fly With Us'. We will continue to work with our stakeholders to detect illegal wildlife trade and raise awareness to protect these valuable creatures.”
Crawford Allan, Leader of ROUTES Partnership, welcomed Qatar Airways' leadership in efforts to prevent wildlife smuggling: “Qatar Airways is committed to the Buckingham Palace Declaration and ROUTES Partnership's goal through its actions to raise awareness, education and incorporate wildlife smuggling into its policies. showed his commitment. I am proud to see Qatar Airways continuing these efforts and being a key part of airlines that say “Do Not Fly With Us.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the crime of wildlife smuggling poses a serious threat not only to animals, the environment and biodiversity, but also to human health. Despite limited travel opportunities, shared reports of illegal pet trade revealed that over the past year, traders are still taking their chances via air transport. Qatar Airways adopts the principle of protecting ecosystems and wildlife, with the support of USAID ROUTES partnership against all trials.
As the first signatory to the Buckingham Palace Declaration in March 2016 and a founding member of the Joint Task Force for Wildlife Transport, Qatar Airways has a zero-tolerance policy against the illegal transportation of wildlife and products. Qatar Airways Cargo launched the second installment of its sustainability program, WeQare: Rewild the Planet, earlier this year, focused on moving wild animals to their natural habitats for free. The cargo carrier's attempt to protect wildlife and rebuild the planet is directly linked to the airline's commitment to combating wildlife smuggling and illegal wildlife trade, thereby protecting the environment and the Earth.