A380 grounding deepens Qatar Airways losses

Qatar Airways sunk to a loss of $4.1 billion as the pandemic forced the Gulf carrier to endure one of the most difficult years in its history.

More than half of the losses – $2.3 billion – came from the grounding of its fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbos and A330 widebody aircraft.

However, the airline still managed to achieve improved earnings at ebitda level of $1.6 billion against $1.4 billion the previous year.

The carrier’s operational loss of $288.3 million was seven per cent less than 2019-20.

The Qatar government provided a $3 billion equity injection “to support the business’s continuity”.

Chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the airline had showed “strength, resilience and commitment” during the Covid-19 crisis – described as the most challenging and extraordinary 12 months it has ever experienced.

He broke this down as “strength not to shy away from taking a risk or avoiding difficult decisions, resilience in remaining focused and not allowing events to overcome us, and commitment by never reneging on our promises to customers, partners, and employees”.

He added: “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, operating a network our passengers and customers could rely on.

“With the support of our varied fleet of modern, fuel-efficient aircraft, we were able to ensure that more of our scheduled flights operated than any other carrier and fulfilled our mission of taking stranded passengers home, whilst maintaining global supply chains to transport medical aid and supplies essential to the fight against Covid-19.

“We also significantly expanded our charter business as a direct response to increased demand in this area, providing vital and reliable services to support our customers during uncertain times, an effort that was publicly appreciated and acknowledged by many governments and organisations around the world.

“This commercial flexibility further consolidated our leadership position at the forefront of the recovery of global air travel.”

The airline has rebuilt its network from a low of 33 destinations to more than 140 today.

Services have been introduced to nine new destinations – Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Abuja, Nigeria; Accra, Ghana; Brisbane, Australia; Harare, Zimbabwe; Luanda, Angola; Lusaka, Zambia; San Francisco and Seattle –as the carrier continued to identify new markets, launching nine new destinations.

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