Qatar Airways eyes strategic fleet expansion

Qatar Airways eyes strategic fleet expansion

DUBAI - Qatar Airways said it was all geared up for a strategic expansion to meet the heavy visitor traffic for FIFA World Cup 2022 with a fleet of 140 young aircraft covering 130 global destinations.

By Issac John

Published: Sat 25 Dec 2010, 11:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:46 PM

The airline, one the fastest growing carriers in the Arab world, is seriously looking at launching an initial public offering, or IPO, at the early part of 2012 when it would have recorded three consecutive years of net profit, said Akbar Al Baker, the airline’s chief executive officer.

“As we have said in the past, we would go in for an IPO once we register three consecutive years of profit. In the last financial year, we realised a net profit; this year we are heading towards a net profit. We are hopeful of deriving a net profit in the next financial year as well,” Al Baker said.

Al Baker said he also could not be specific about the percentage earmarked for public offering as well as its timing, as both would have to be decided by owners.

He refused to disclose the size of the profit, but said it would be “hefty.”

“I will only start declaring my profits when we have launched the IPO exercise to the people. We are still a privately owned company, though we are 50-50 private-public partnership. So we are not obligated to announce, but I will tell you that we have a very hefty profit,” he said.

Qatar Airways has orders for 80 Airbus A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and 32 Boeing 777s with the deliveries of the latter having started in November 2007. The airline is one of the customers of the twin-deck Airbus A380 ‘super jumbos’ with five on order and scheduled for delivery from 2012.

Al Baker also ruled out any immediate plans to launch a budget airline subsidiary as he felt his airline was not facing any serious challenge as yet from this sector. On Qatar Airways preparedness for the Fifa World Cup, he said: “We will be the primary conduit for thousands of visitors and others who will be arriving here to see the matches. At that time, we will have some 140 aircraft in our fleet and 130 destinations all over the world.”

He said the airline has no plans to amend its orders for 30 787s and options for 30 more due to the delay faced by Boeing in deliveries.

“We are still expecting to receive our Boeing 787s contractually by the end of 2011. However, we are prepared for any further slippage as we have taken all the precautions we require vis-a-vis retiring our current fleet,” he said.

Qatar Airways, which has a fleet with a median age of three, has a policy to retire its aircraft after five years, he pointed out.

“The 787s are replacement for our current fleet. I still have confidence that Boeing will overcome all the issues with that airplane and that the test flights will resume before the end of our current month.”

Al Baker said he did not think there would be another slip by Boeing, because the delay was not due to any technical or software hitches. “It may be was relating to some workmanship issue which Boeing has resolved,” he said.

However, Al Baker admitted that the delay would affect the airline’s planes being retired, “because we don’t want to keep any airplane that is beyond five years in our fleet.

But we are pretty confident that if there is a delay it will be minimal and Qatar Airways is not intending to cancel any airplanes orders at the moment,” he said.

More news from Local Business