Qatar Airways suffers $4bn annual loss on pandemic hit

Qatar Airways reported on Monday that its annual revenue loss topped $4bn, and its passenger numbers plunged by 82 percent year over year as the coronavirus pandemic gutted demand for long-haul travel.

‘Whilst our competitors grounded their aircraft and closed their routes, we adapted our entire commercial operation to respond to ever-evolving travel restrictions and never stopped flying,’ Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said in a statement on Monday [File: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg]
Qatar Airways announced on Monday that it suffered a more than $4bn loss in revenues over the last fiscal year, as lockdowns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic slashed demand for long-haul travel.

The major loss, which the state-owned airline largely attributed to the grounding of its Airbus A380 and A330 wide-body jets, highlights the dramatic toll of the pandemic on the industry.

Even so, the Doha-based airline reported an increase in earnings to $1.6bn before taxes and other costs compared to the previous year — costs that dropped significantly as the airline saved on jet fuel, reduced salaries by 15 percent and cut some 13,400 employees from its workforce. The pandemic has hit international routes the hardest, dealing a heavy blow to super connectors in the Persian Gulf that essentially lack domestic markets.

In the last several months, the flagship carrier has received a boost from an end to a yearslong boycott that locked Qatar Airways out of the airspace of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The embargo had forced the airline to take longer routes and consume more jet fuel, raising expenses. For the first time since 2017, the energy-rich state’s airline reopened key routes to hubs like Dubai, Cairo and Riyadh as the political dispute eased in January.

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