Hamstrung by regional blockade by neighbouring countries, Qatar Airways has recorded a “substantial” loss in the last financial year. The downward spiral for Qatar Airways is primarily fuelled by the blockade supported by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain – which have since June 2017 refused to grant the Qatari airline access to their airspace – insinuating Qatar of “supporting 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 shared on the sidelines of the recently held Eurasia Airshow in Antalya. He added that he was not going to detail the “size of the loss, but it was substantial,” suggesting that while other parts of the business recorded profit, but it was far from enough to cover up for the losses incurred owing to the ban. The CEO, however, was quick to add that the airline had no “immediate plan” to ask the Qatari government for capital infusion and argued that the blockade was against international law. “Other countries have been putting pressure on them to stop it,” Al-Baker said.
Interestingly, amidst the unfolding, the airline has recently announced further expansion of its network, making it the first middle-eastern carrier to directly service Luxemburg. Also, given the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the carrier is eyeing expansion of its passenger and cargo network to 250 destinations – which is expected to position the Gulf carrier as an airline with second largest cargo network in the coming few years.