Qatar Airways makes ‘substantial’ loss amid Gulf blockade: CEO
Güneş Kömürcüler – ANTALYA
Qatar Airways made a “substantial” loss in its last financial year because of a regional blockade that has banned the airline from Arab countries, the company chief has announced.
On June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain started refusing to grant the Qatari airline access to their airspace, as those countries cut ties with Qatar by claiming its “support for terrorism.”
“Our operating costs have risen. We had to also take a hit on revenues so we do not think that our results for the last financial year will be good,” Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar al-Baker told reporters on the sidelines of Eurasia Airshow in the Turkish resort of Antalya.
“I do not want to say the size of the loss but it was substantial,” al-Baker said, adding that while other parts of the business were profitable this was not enough to compensate for the losses.
The airline will need eight weeks to finalize the books for its final yearly announcement, he also noted.
The blockade pushed the airline to fly longer flights on many routes, which requires more fuel and increases costs.
“This blockade is against international law ... Other countries have been putting pressure on them to stop it,” al-Baker said, adding that the company had no immediate plans to ask its sole shareholder, the Qatari government, for a capital injection.
“However, we may do it if the airspace ban continues,” he added.
When Qatar hosts the FIFA World Cup in 2022 the airline will increase its passenger and cargo network of nearly 250 destinations, adding that Qatar Airways is also soon set to become the world’s second largest cargo network.
Turkey destinations on rise
Earlier this month, Qatar Airways revealed a host of forthcoming global destinations in line with its expedited expansion plans, including the announcement that it will be the first Gulf carrier to begin direct services to Luxembourg.
Hatay Airport recently became the carrier’s fifth destination in Turkey after the two airports in Istanbul, Esenboğa Airport in Ankara, and Şakirpaşa Airport in Adana.
The company is set to start Antalya and Bodrum flights on a seasonal basis.
“For our people, Turkey has become a popular destination. They are wealthy tourists and they like shopping or other ways of spending money,” al-Baker said.
However, Qatar has unfortunately not been widely advertised in Turkey so far, he added.
“We will launch new promotional campaigns in Turkey, especially for Turkish investors. Turkey and Qatar have very close political and economic ties. During tough times Turkey has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Qatari people, which is very appreciated,” al-Baker said.