DOHA: Qatar Airways said yesterday it received $3 billion in state aid to weather the coronavirus travel downturn and to offset losses it blamed on the cost of grounding aircraft. The airline reported an overall loss of $4.1 billion for the year to March 31, double the figure for the same period the year before. Without the cost of grounding its Airbus A380 and A330 aircraft, Qatar Airways reported an underlying operating loss for the year of $228.3 million compared with $310 million the previous year.
The Gulf carrier did report a slight uptick in overall earnings and a 4.6 percent increase in the amount of cargo carried in the last 12-month period. Qatar is among several governments that have stepped in to support their national carriers through the coronavirus shutdown, which has pummeled global travel and the aviation industry. In September 2020 the airline reported it had received $2 billion in state aid after its annual losses exceeded 50 percent of share capital. “We adapted our entire commercial operation to respond to ever-evolving travel restrictions and never stopped flying,” Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al-Baker said in a statement, calling the last 12-month period “difficult”.
“While our organization did not receive any subsidies in the form of salary support or grants, (the Qatari government) did provide an equity injection of 11 billion riyals ($3 billion) to support the business’s continuity.” Monday’s results are the first full year numbers since the United Arab Emirates, a key market for the Gulf carrier, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, ended a boycott of Qatar in place since June 2017.
They had accused Doha of links to extremist groups and being too close to Iran, Riyadh’s regional arch-rival-charges Qatar denied-closing their airspace, borders and markets to Doha until a deal was struck in January. Qatar Airways is the second largest airline in the Middle East after Dubai-based Emirates, operating a fleet of 253 aircraft-although some remain grounded during the pandemic. – AFP