In a kind gesture – which also happens to be a public relations triumph for the airline – Qatar Airways has stepped in to help the Wild Boars football team, the 12 Thai boys and their coach who were saved from death in a cave in Thailand earlier this year in one of the most extraordinary rescues in modern history.
Qatar Airways says it is proud to have flown the Wild Boars football team from Thailand to London to take part in the ‘Pride of Britain’ 2018 awards ceremony. The two selfless British divers at the heart of their cave rescue accompanied the group.
The airline says it acted in recognition of a “truly inspirational story of strength and survival” – though observers point out that Qatar Airways is not the airline you would first think of in connection with a story so strongly linked to Thailand.
Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free (QDF) officials met the football team during their stopover at Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha and presented the boys with gift bags from QDF, consisting of signed football jerseys and baseball caps.
“The group also had the chance to experience the five-star hospitality of Qatar Airways’ home and hub, HIA, the award-winning airline’s gateway to the world,” the airline stated.
Qatar Airways chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said Qatar Airways was very proud to support the Wild Boars football team on their trip from Thailand to Britain.
“Their story is one of courage, strength and determination; they are inspirational children and we were delighted to be able to fly them to London for the awards ceremony.
“We also look forward to welcoming them on board once again for their return trip home to Thailand, and are thrilled to be a part of the incredible journey these young people have taken over the course of the last few months.”
The 12 children and their coach entered the sprawling Tham Luang cave network in Northern Thailand on 23 June. Within hours, the cave flooded and the boys were trapped inside without food or water. The world watched as a team of international diving experts led the mission to rescue them, evacuating the boys one by one. The last of the group, the coach, successfully exited the cave on 10 July, more than two weeks after they had entered.
As well as helping the Wild Boars, Qatar Airways plans to launch an array of new destinations over the coming months, including Mombasa, Kenya; Gothenburg, Sweden and Da Nang, Vietnam.
Although Qatar is facing a blockade led by Saudi Arabia, putting pressure on the airline and its country, it shows no sign of flinching.
Written by Peter Needham