Flying for Qatar Airways as a Pilot

In our newest series of blogs, the theme is “what it’s like to fly for” a particular airline.

The AirlinePrep team have accumulated thousands of hours working for major UK and international airlines and we are well connected through our previous clients to other airlines.

In this blog, we talk about ‘what it’s like to fly for Qatar Airways’ and provide some basic recruitment info.

The Airline 

Qatar Airways (QR) is the national airline of the State of Qatar. The emphasis is on quality throughout the airline; it is extremely proud of its 5 Star image and won the Skytrax Best Airline Award in 2011, 2015 and 2017. It has enjoyed phenomenal growth in its 20 years to date, expanding in that time to a network of over 150 destinations and a fleet of 192 aircraft (at the time of writing - June 2017).

It will be opening another 24 routes in the next 2 years as well as taking delivery of many new aircraft; the fleet is modern and well equipped. The airline leverages the geographical position of its Doha hub to work on a super connector model using its modern, and newly built home, Hamad International Airport.

When the airline moved to the new airport in 2014, it introduced a state of the art Operations Centre housing the Flightdeck and Cabin Crew briefing areas and the Integrated Operations Centre containing Crewing, a comprehensive Flightwatch facility and Maintenance Control Centre.

There is a real international flavour to the airline and you’ll find yourself rubbing shoulders with colleagues from all over the world. Qatar Airways customers travel for both business and leisure with both types of destination featuring on the network.  

Life in Doha 

Doha is a Middle Eastern city with modern facilities. The currency is the Qatari Riyal (QAR) with an exchange rate pegged at 3.64 QAR/1 USD. The pace of development and change in the city is enormous with a metro system being built, general infrastructure improvements and preparations for World Cup 2022 in full swing. Thanks to its globally central location Doha provides great access to the world, being within easy flying distance of Europe, Africa and Asia; many QR staff use the fantastic staff travel to explore – more of that later. Although there is a predominantly Gulf Arabic theme, Doha is a real melting pot of cultures.


The Qatari population is much smaller than the expat community. Life in Doha is a year of two seasons. It can be very hot during summer – extreme temperatures being 50deg C and average low 40s. Consequently, residents tend to stick to the many malls, most of which include some form of amusement park for families, or use the facilities of their accommodation. Winter is very pleasant with temperatures around 18-25deg and a fleece or jacket required during the evening.


Most of the annual activities take place between October and April. There are various cultural and sporting events laid on. Qatar is on the World Tennis Association circuit for the men’s and women’s tours, tickets being available for around £5-£10 (the going rate for most events!). Other sporting occasions are Moto GP, exhibition football matches involving teams like Barcelona FC, Jet Boat racing and many more. On the cultural side, there are the Tribeca Film Festival, comedy shows and many musical events to suit most tastes including beach parties featuring well known DJs.


You can while away spare time on desert camping trips, lounge at beach clubs or by the pool at your accommodation, take in the ambience of the Souk Wakif or visit one of the many bars in the city. Eating varies from surprisingly good and cheap “hole-in-the-wall” eateries to upmarket restaurants. Looking at life for spouses and families, there are a variety of activities for everyone. Your spouse can choose to work themselves – salaries are tax free and generally better than home, or they can get into the expat lifestyle.


For families, there are plenty of schools available, Qatar Airways even has its own Oryx School available for children of employees. The schools tend to follow the UK or US curriculum and have excellent facilities and plenty of after-school activities.


Accommodation is provided by the company, 2-3 bed apartments for FOs and 4 bed apartments or villas for Captains. Locations are spread across the city including some very popular areas like West Bay and the Pearl. Villas are usually available in compounds with clubhouse facilities and pool areas. If you wish to find your own accommodation an allowance is payable, 13000 QAR and 15000 QAR for FOs and Captains respectively. This will get you good accommodation anywhere in the city.


Driving can be challenging at first but you quickly adapt, a car is essential for getting around the city. There are plenty of reasonably priced taxis, including Uber, and the metro system will be completed with the next few years (info as at 2017). 

Aircraft, Routes and Flying

The fleet is comparatively young and well maintained. The network contains short, medium and long-haul destinations with a considerable variety of flying. All aircraft types are used for Intra-Gulf flights except the A380.  


Airbus fleet; The A320 does a lot of Intra-Gulf flying along with many destinations within 4-6 hours of Doha (India, Southern and Eastern Europe and Eurasia). The A330 fleet has both passenger and cargo aircraft. It flies further afield, out to around 11hrs flight time from Doha, including many Asian, African and European destinations. The A340 is a small fleet and only flies a few routes. The A350 is rapidly expanding with up to 80 on order. It flies up to 14 hour sectors so covers Australia, Europe, Asia and US. The A380 does trunk routes; LHR, CDG, BKK, CAN and seasonally SYD and MEL.  


Boeing fleet; the B787 fleet will eventually grow to 60 aircraft, currently there are 30x788, with 30x789 on order. It flies to Africa, Europe and Asia but will probably start picking up US and Australian destinations in time as the -9’s arrive. The B777 fleet is presently the largest fleet in the airline and will grow to 69 aircraft. QR flies the 200LR, 300ER and 200F variants. It flies across the entire network, including South America and does the world’s longest scheduled flight DOH-AKL. On any of the widebody fleets, the longer-range flights are usually done with 3 or 4 pilots. Usually layovers are around 24 hours, unless the flight frequency is less than daily or it is an Ultra Long-Haul flight (B777 only) where an additional day off downroute is required. Cargo flying (A330 and B777) has a lot of variety and involves trips of up to 10 days duration and some unusual charters. There are some freighter-only Captains, but usually A330 and B777 pilots are cross-qualified onto the cargo variants after 6 months and do both passenger and cargo flights.


Qatar Airways has ordered 60 B777-8X and 9X aircraft with options for 40 more, has orders for 14 A321NEO - wishing to purchase up to 80, and has firm orders for 20 B737 MAX-8 which will replace older A320s.

Terms of Employment 

You are offered a permanent, full-time contract which attracts a tax-free basic salary, variable pay based on scheduled block hours flown and 42 days leave taken in 6 day blocks. There is a guaranteed block of 4 days off per month and a preference bidding system to request days off, destinations or early/late starts – most months you get at least some of what you bid for.


Comprehensive, worldwide private health insurance is provided through Allianz. An education allowance covering tuition fees is payable for children up to age 21. Accommodation is covered in the Life in Doha paragraph. A transport allowance of 1500 QAR is paid.


The Staff Travel is outstanding with unlimited ID90s (space available) and ID50s (confirmed tickets) for you and your immediate family (spouse and children up to 24), and up to 15 ID tickets for parents, siblings and in-laws on the QR network. On staff travel you’ll be able to sample Qatar Airway’s award winning premium service as FOs are entitled to Business and Captains First Class ID tickets (although practically First Class is only available on intra-Gulf flights and not the A380). You and your immediate family also receive one, free, return Annual Leave Ticket (ALT) per year which can be used to travel anywhere from Doha on the QR network. The ALT is confirmed economy, upgradeable to Business. There are many interline agreements and staff travel is possible on all OneWorld airlines and many other large and small carriers. The staff travel system is extremely easy to use and very flexible. You can also nominate up to 50 people for the Privilege Pass scheme and buy them discounted tickets on the QR network. A free cargo allowance is available for joining and leaving and there is a 100KG annual allowance at discounted rates. 

Opportunities and Training 

Qatar Airways is a great option for any time in your career; whether as a Cadet/Second Officer, experienced First Officer, Direct Entry Captain or full time Synthetic Flight Instructor and has a very open, gender neutral recruitment policy. New joiners are placed onto a type in either the Boeing or Airbus fleet and will progress within that aircraft family.


For those joining on the A320, progression to Airbus widebody types is quick (18 months to 2 years). Time to command is running around 4-5 years (2017) with hours requirements for upgrade based on airline jet hours flown, 4000hrs for narrowbody and B787, 5000hrs for widebody types. FOs can apply for ground training and recruitment posts. Captains can apply for all training posts, recruitment, safety and management positions.


Training is relaxed yet professional, using Evidence Based Training principles to develop non-technical as well as general flying skills, aiming to bring out the best in you as an individual. You will gain valuable flying experience on Qatar Airway’s worldwide route network in a very well organised and professional airline. 


Keep an eye on the recruitment website for jobs. QR needs many pilots for its continual expansion plans. Roadshows are laid on regularly, advertised on the website and in the aviation press; there you can meet the recruitment team who are always on the lookout for excellent pilots of all experience levels. 


Selection is in stages. After submitting your application an initial online psychological test is done. Successful applicants are invited to Doha for a technical test (ATPL feedback), interview and simulator check. Qatar Airways also offers Cadetships with CTC for ab-initio pilots. 

For more detailed information about the Qatar Airways recruitment process, try AirlinePrep The App which is available directly from our website. The App contains a dedicated Qatar Airways recruitment brief with feedback ATPL and interview questions as well as a comprehensive information on the simulator check.


Our courses are perfect preparation for your forthcoming Airline Pilot interview and assessment. Courses include:

  • 1 to 1 competency based interview
  • Group exercises
  • Numerical reasoning
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Maths refresher training
  • Interview training
  • Group Exercise training
  • Career development and Pilot skills seminar

If you would like to know more about how we can support and help you with your Airline or Cadet Pilot interview, then please feel free to contact us.