Qatar blockade bites as state airline’s boss predicts a loss

Qatar blockade bites as state airline’s boss predicts a loss

- in All News
28

Qatar Airways’ chief executive has claimed his airline is facing an annual loss this year as the blockade on the carrier’s home country by its neighbours takes its toll.

Akbar al-Baker said the land, sea and air blockade imposed by the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – had hit the company’s earnings but pledged that the ongoing geopolitical crisis would not hobble his airline’s growth ambitions.

The blockade has meant Qatar’s planes have had to fly longer routes through Turkish and Iranian airspace, costing it more in fuel than would be the case if it could fly over other neighbouring countries. It also means more maintenance of its jets is needed.

“We have increased maintenance costs because we are flying longer routes, we have more fuel consumption, so the cost to the airline is rising and I have already stated that the airline will post a loss this year due to the blockade, but this doesn’t mean that we are going to shrink,” Mr Al-Baker said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We will keep on expanding and growing the company.”

The comments were made in the Australian capital Canberra, which Qatar Airways has now started serving daily.

Identifying destinations beyond its immediate neighbours has become a more pressing priority for the carrier since the blockade began last year. Qatar’s neighbours have taken issue with its alleged support for some Islamist groups as well as its links with Iran but the oil- and gas-rich Gulf state has refused to comply with demands made on it to alter its stance.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker has said his airline will still grow in spite of the fact it is likely to suffer a loss this year

Last year Qatar Airways began flying to Dublin, Nice, Prague, Auckland and Chiang Mai in Thailand.

This year the airline will add routes to Cardiff and Malaga. But Mr Al-Baker gave no timeline as to when such destinations would make up for the loss from flights to its neighbouring countries.

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