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, 2017 and 2019. It has enjoyed phenomenal growth in its 22 years to date, expanding in that time to a network of over 160 destinations and a fleet of 250 aircraft (at the time of writing – August 2019). 

Plans include the opening of new routes, 8 alone in 2019, 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 Hamad 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.  There are almost 4000 pilots and over 13500 Cabin Crew working for the airline at the time of writing. 

Click here to search for vacancies with Qatar Airways.

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 completed, 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, although schools specialising in other European curricula are available. All 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. There is a waiting list to move out of company accommodation. 

Driving can be challenging at first, but you quickly adapt. A car is essential for getting around the city although there are plenty of reasonably priced taxis, including Uber. A new metro system became operational in May 2019 and will eventually ramp up to consist of 3 lines and 100 stations. 

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 some Intra-Gulf flying along with many destinations within 4-6 hours of Doha (India, Southern and Eastern Europe and Eurasia). The A330 fleet flies further afield, out to around 11hrs flight time from Doha, including many Asian, African and European destinations. The A350 is steadily expanding with 45 delivered and a further 35 on order. It flies up to 14 hour sectors so covers Australia, Europe, Asia and US. The 10 x A380s do trunk routes; LHR, CDG, BKK, CAN, MEL and some of the SYD flights. The airline has indicated it will phase out the A380 from 2024 onwards. 

Boeing fleet; the B787 fleet is growing.  Currently there are 30 x 788, with the delivery of 30 x B789’s commencing soon. It flies to Africa, Europe and Asia but will probably start picking up US and Australian destinations in time as the -900’s arrive. The B777 fleet is presently the largest fleet in the airline with 73 delivered and will grow to 78 aircraft. QR flies the 200LR, 300ER and 200F variants. It flies across the entire network, including South America and does the world’s second longest scheduled flight DOH-AKL. There are 2 x B747-8F cargo aircraft.

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 there is a change of type between successive days. Cargo flying (B777 and B747) has a lot of variety and involves trips of up to 11 days duration and some unusual charters. The B747F is only cargo flying while B777 pilots are cross-qualified onto the 777F 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 and has orders for 50 A321NEO.

The airline is EASA compliant including FTLs which are Sub-Part Q. 

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. An online swap system is being rolled out. 

Comprehensive, worldwide private health insurance is provided through Al Koot. 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. 

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, older children, 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 ID tickets, and Captains First Class (although practically First Class is only available on intra-Gulf flights as First on the A380 is embargoed). 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 or First for Captains. 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 10 people for a Buddy Pass scheme and buy them a limited number of 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 usually 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 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. On the widebody fleets some FOs are selected and trained as In-Flight Relief pilots to relieve the Captain on 3 crew flights requiring in-flight rest. 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.