Qatar Airways will report a ‘very large loss’

Blockade, which includes an airspace ban, is ‘putting financial strain’ on the airline after a $541m profit in 2016.

Exhibitors pose at the Qatar Airways booth at the International Tourism Trade Fair ITB in Berlin
In the previous fiscal year, Qatar Airways announced $541m in profits [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

Qatar Airways will report a “very large loss” because of a regional political dispute that has slapped restrictions on the airline, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

The Qatari airline lost access to 18 cities in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain when those countries imposed a blockade on the country last June, accusing Doha of supporting “terrorism”. Qatar denies the charges. 

“We will announce a very large loss during the current financial year, which ends this month,” Akbar al-Baker said, without giving further details.

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When asked if it was running short of cash, Baker said in an interview with Reuters TV that Qatar Airways may need to call on its state owners for extra funds should the blockade continue.

“Not for the foreseeable future, but if it continues long term our shareholders will have to put additional equity into the company,” he said.

The restrictions, which include a ban on using airspace over the four countries, are “putting financial strain” on the airline, Baker told reporters at the ITB travel fair in Berlin.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were popular routes for Qatar Airways.

The airspace ban means for many flights to the west and south of the Gulf the airline has to fly longer routes, which requires more fuel and increases costs.

In the previous fiscal year, Qatar Airways announced $541m in profits.

Source: Reuters