More aircraft orders and more international investments could be on the cards as Qatar Airways tries to put its toughest year behind it. But could further losses be on the way too?
Last month, Qatar Airways revealed a $69 million loss in the 12 months to the end of March 2018. That was a radical reversal from the $770 million profit it made during the previous year – a change the airline said was due to the travel and trade boycott imposed in June 2017 by four of its neighbors, led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Speaking in Doha on October 8, the airline’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the situation has stabilised this year, with growth resuming in terms of both passenger numbers and its route network. However, it remains to be seen if the group can translate such trends into profits.
When the boycott first struck, Qatar Airways found itself forced to abandon 18 regional routes, leaving it with more aircraft than it needed. It meant it was able to lend some of its aircraft and crew to British Airways (BA) to help the latter deal with strike action last summer and to cope with additional maintenance checks on BA’s Boeing 787s earlier this year.
With 24 new routes added since June last year, that situation has now been reversed and Al Baker said the problem of having too many planes in its fleet is now a thing of the past. “We don’t have any excess aircraft. As a matter of fact we are short of aircraft,” he said, on the sidelines of the IPEC conference in the Qatari capital.