Qatar Airways has announced that it is celebrating becoming the world’s first airline to achieve a new industry standard for the prevention of illegal wildlife trafficking in aviation.

The Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Assessment was developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), as part of IEnvA – IATA’s environmental management and evaluation system for airlines – with support from The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and USAID’s Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership.

Qatar AirwaysCompliance with the IWT IEnvA Standards and Recommended Practices (ESARP) enables airline signatories to the United for Wildlife Buckingham Palace Declaration to demonstrate that they have implemented the relevant Commitments within the Declaration. In May this year, Qatar Airways was independently assessed and was deemed to have met the requirements of the IWT Assessment.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, HE Akbar Al Baker, said they are proud and honoured to be the first airline recognised by the aviation industry for delivering on the commitments made at Buckingham Palace in March 2016.

We remain dedicated to this cause, and will continue to work with our stakeholders to raise awareness and improve detection of illegal activity.’

According to IATA Director General and Chief Executive Officer Alexandre de Juniac, the trade in illegal wildlife could rob future generations of some of the earth’s most precious and iconic species.

Sadly, traffickers take advantage of the air transport networks we have built, and we all share a responsibility to play our part in eradicating this appalling trade. Qatar Airways is leading the way with its anti-trafficking initiatives, using IATA standards and recommended practices, and they are to be congratulated on their well-deserved recognition from the Royal Foundation.’

Illegal trade in wildlife is worth an estimated US $23 billion per year, and threatens the survival of some of the world’s most endangered species. Animals and animal products are transported around the globe for trade, taking advantage of commercial transport services, including aviation, which is unknowingly misused by traffickers.

Al Baker was presented with the certificate during IATA’s Annual General Meeting in Seoul.

Zero Tolerance Policy 

As an inaugural signatory to the Buckingham Palace Declaration in March 2016 and a founding member of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, Qatar Airways has a zero tolerance policy towards the illegal trade of endangered wildlife. The airline has implemented multiple initiatives to help prevent illegal wildlife transportation activity through its network, such as training employees on how to detect and report suspicious activity and raising passenger awareness on the importance of the issue.

Although certification to the IWT Assessment may not prevent traffickers from attempting to exploit an airline’s network, it confirms that an airline has procedures, staff training and the reporting protocols that makes the smuggling of illegal wildlife products more challenging. Examples of Qatar Airways’ proactive approach to the prevention of illegal wildlife trade include:

  • Working with USAID’s ROUTES Partnership in developing Qatar Airways’ training material, and sharing intelligence and best practice within the industry
  • Working with government stakeholders responsible for security and customs at Hamad International Airport and selected destinations to develop shared procedures for wildlife crime reporting and follow-up
  • Raising passenger awareness through electronic posters at Hamad International Airport, wildlife features in Qatar Airways’ inflight magazine and inflight entertainment system, and wildlife-themed posts on the airlines’ social media channels

For updates and more information about Qatar Airways, visit their website at

Cover Image from Getty Images.