Boycott by Gulf states forces Qatar Airways into losses

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Boycott by Gulf states forces Qatar Airways into losses

Canberra - Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have boycotted Qatar, and severed land, air and sea links with it.


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Published: Tue 13 Feb 2018, 12:21 PM

Last updated: Tue 13 Feb 2018, 8:28 PM

Qatar Airways' chief executive said on Tuesday that the carrier will post a loss this year because four Arab countries have severed land, air and sea links with Qatar.

Akbar Al Baker said the boycott on Qatar's flagship airline flying to neighbouring Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since last summer has forced it to fly longer routes through Turkey and Iran, and has hit the company's bottom line, but not its expansion plans.
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"We have increased maintenance costs because we are flying longer routes, we have more fuel consumption, so the cost to the airline is rising and I have already stated that the airline will post a loss this year due to the blockade, but this doesn't mean that we are going to shrink," Al Baker said in an interview. "We will keep on expanding and growing the company."

Speaking in the Australian capital Canberra where Qatar Airways has become the first international airline to offer daily flights, Al Baker said his state-owned airline might know by April the size of the loss. He could not give a timeline on when the new routes would make up for markets lost.

"It all depends on how quick we will be able to mature the new destinations that we are operating instead of the destinations that were taken away from us during the blockade," Al Baker said.

"The world is not only these four blockading countries. The world is very large and we are always looking at new opportunities which we have been doing very successfully. We will grow everywhere, not only by ... new destinations but also grow frequencies," he added.

Qatar's four neighbours have effectively cut their air, land and sea links, isolating it.

President Donald Trump last year denounced Qatar for allegedly funding terrorism.

But Al Baker has ruled out any reputational damage for his airline or his country from that accusation of supporting extremists that led to the severing of Qatar's links with its neighbours.

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