Qatar Airways slams diplomatic situation and declares itself “aviation powerhouse” with impressive results

Huge profit and revenue rises at carrier, while CEO gives robust response to neighbours

Qatar Airways has pledged to focus on the rest of its network following the deteriorating political relations between its home county and Gulf neighbours, while CEO Akbar al-Baker hits out at the "illegal" blockade.

Speaking to the country's national news service Al Jazeera, al-Baker claimed the move could actually benefit Qatar Airways' network growth in some respects.

"I do agree that there are some dark clouds, and I should not be hiding my concern that we will underperform," he said.

"But not to the extent of our neighbours, because Qatar Airways has a very strong growth plan. You know that, not too long ago, I announced that I was going to increase to 24 new destinations.

"I couldn't do it because I had capacity restraints. Now that we have a release, capacity from the 18 destinations, that we have been barred illegally from operating, we are now going to accelerate the other regions of the world, where we feel that we will mitigate the reduction in passenger numbers from this 18 destinations.

"So Qatar Airways has a robust plan B, to continue our march ahead." 

Earlier this week the airline, which has posted a 21.7 percent rise in profits and 10.4 percent revenue growth for the year to 31 March 2017, declared itself an “aviation powerhouse” when reporting the results.

Total revenue for the period was 38,895,745 Qatari Riyal (10,607,548 $US), up from 35,248,298 a year earlier. The improvement was reflected in its bottom line with pre-tax profit of 1,977,042 Riyal, up from 1,624,786.

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Referencing the diplomatic stance of its neighbours which led the severing of all trade ties including flight routes and airspace, the airline was clear that it would continue with business as usual.

“In early June 2017, four specific countries namely the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and the Arab Republic of Egypt took steps to sever diplomatic ties with the State of Qatar, and also closed transport connectivity by road, sea and air to these countries from the State of Qatar,” said a brief statement.

“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 airline is understandably bullish after a period in which it launched 10 new services including Adelaide, Auckland, Helsinki, Marrakech and Mahé, and increased its Available Seat Kilometres by 21.9 percent to 185,208 million. The airline plans even further expansion in the current financial year with 24 new destinations already announced, including Dublin, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro and Santiago.

And despite the uncertainty al-Baker said the airport will report "a  good profit next year". 

"When we withdrew from one destination for example, we didn't close the airline down. We looked at five new destinations, and this is exactly what we're doing," he said.

"You know, the world is not only these four countries."

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