(Bloomberg) --

Qatar Airways will cut almost 20% of its workforce after a slump in travel demand caused by the coronavirus, the carrier’s chief executive officer said in a BBC interview.

“We have no other alternative,” Akbar Al Baker said Wednesday. He told Bloomberg earlier this week that rehiring laid-off employees would be his first priority once business returns.

The airline employs more than 46,000 people, according to its website, meaning the layoffs could affect about 9,200 workers.

Qatar Air Needs ‘Miracle’ for All Flights to Resume Before 2023

Like most other airlines, Qatar Airways is still considering how best to implement social distancing measures. Al Baker told Bloomberg that he’s skeptical of rules that would force passengers to sit apart, particularly since it would be difficult to accommodate families traveling together.

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