EghtesadOnline: Qatar Airways, whose state owner has been blockaded by neighboring Persian Gulf countries, posted an increase in annual profit as it expanded its wide-body jet fleet to send more long-haul travelers through Doha, added destinations and bought stakes in key partner airlines.
Net income for the year ended March 31 rose 22 percent to 1.97 billion riyals ($538.7 million), the Persian Gulf’s second-largest carrier said Sunday in a statement. Revenue rose 10 percent to 38.9 billion riyals. The state-owned carrier added 10 destinations and carried 32 million passengers, up from 26.6 million a year earlier. The airline expects to get its first Airbus SE A350-1000 in 2017 and add 29 A350-900s and 37 A350-1000s over the next five years, Bloomberg reported.
The airline’s ambitious growth plan could be stunted amid an unfolding diplomatic spat over Qatar’s alleged support of extremism. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates last week suspended ties with Qatar, shut down flights and blockaded air, sea and land links. Subsequent closures of airspace for Qatari flights would restrict the airline to northbound routes via Iran and Kuwait. That disrupts flights to Doha, especially from Africa.
“Qatar Airways continues to operate to the rest of its network as per its published schedules with day-to-day adjustments for operational and commercial efficiencies, which is standard airline practice,” the company, led by Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, said in the statement.
Qatar Airways said growth in the fiscal year was challenged by supplier issues, such as Airbus SE A350 production delays and engine problems with the A320Neo. The airline and Airbus have reached an agreement to convert its remaining A320neos on order to A321neos, according to the statement.
As of March 31, the airline’s fleet of 196 planes includes 16 A350-900s and 30 Boeing Co.787s. Its new destinations in the last fiscal year include Adelaide, Australia, and Yerevan, Armenia. The airline has a 20 percent stake in British Airways parent IAG SA, a 10 percent stake in South America’s biggest carrier, Latam Airlines Group SA, and is buying a 49 percent stake in Italian carrier Meridiana Fly SpA.