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Qatar Airways lays off about 200 Filipinos as coronavirus hits travel

Qatar Airways unexpectedly laid off about 200 Filipino staff in Qatar this week as the coronavirus outbreak forces the Middle East airline to slash flights, Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello told Reuters on Wednesday.

By Karen Lema and Alexander Cornwell

MANILA/DUBAI, March 18 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways unexpectedly laid off about 200 Filipino staff in Qatar this week as the coronavirus outbreak forces the Middle East airline to slash flights, Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello told Reuters on Wednesday.

"Our labour attache is under strict instructions to determine what is the real cause of the decision of management to retrench them on the basis of redundancy," he told Reuters.

Qatar Airways did not respond to a request for comment.

The layoffs were reported earlier by ABS-CBN. It said the Filipino employees, including engineers and maintenance staff, were laid off on Tuesday.

The report said other employees also lost their jobs, though did not provide further details.

State-owned Qatar Airways had warned it would report its third consecutive loss this financial year, which ends this month, before the outbreak battered global travel demand.

It is one of the Middle East's biggest airlines and most of its traffic transits through its Doha hub. It does not operate domestic flights.

Qatar has enforced strict entry requirements to stop the spread of the disease which has infected 442 people in the Gulf Arab state. All foreigners are banned from entering and the airline has cut flights to several destinations.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said $200 billion in government support could be needed worldwide to support airlines.

(Reporting by Karen Lema in Manila and Alexander Cornwell in Dubai; Editing by Louise Heavens and David Clarke)

((Alexander.Cornwell@thomsonreuters.com;))

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