Despite an annual net loss, Qatar’s "success in the face of adversity" storyline received another boost with the announcement of Qatar Airways’ annual results September 18, with overall revenue up 14 percent, its cargo business now "largest in the world," and Qatar Executive’s growth at 18.4 percent.
Passenger revenue grew 14.3 percent, with capacity growth in available seat kilometers (ASKM) of 13.5 percent. Cargo revenue grew 16.8 percent, with cargo capacity in available tonne kilometers (ATK) up 11.8 percent year-on-year.
The airline group said its results for the fiscal year ended March 31 highlight its “success and underlying robust financial health, [despite] the continued illegal airspace blockade against the state of Qatar.”
“2018-19 was a year of achievement in the face of adversity for Qatar Airways,” said group chief executive Akbar Al Baker. “Despite facing challenges that are unparalleled in the airline industry...we have grown our fleet, expanded our network and seen overall revenue increase to QAR48 billion [$13.2 billion], a rise of 14 percent. Passenger numbers are up, capacity, as measured by available seat kilometers, has risen, and our cargo business is now the largest in the world.
“2018-19 was nonetheless a challenging year and, while it is disappointing that the Group has registered a net loss of QAR2.3 billion ($639 million), attributable to the loss of mature routes, higher fuel costs and foreign exchange fluctuations, the underlying fundamentals of our business remain extremely robust.”
Qatar is likely to remain cold-shouldered by a boycott imposed in June 2017 by a four-strong alliance of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which also includes Bahrain and Egypt.
The airline launched 11 new destinations during the last fiscal year and has now added a total of 31. Its network now includes more than 160 gateways around the world.
Qatar Airways has 300 aircraft on order worth more than $85 billion (including options and letters of intent) and took delivery of its 250th aircraft in March 2019. With stakes in airlines as diverse as Air Italy, Cathay Pacific, IAG, JetSuite and LATAM, Qatar Airways recently also added 5 percent of the issued share capital of China Southern Airlines to its airline investment portfolio.
Airline sports sponsorship involves multi-year partnerships with Bayern München AG, AS Roma, Boca Juniors, and the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. Qatar Airways Group was also a leading sponsor of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. Qatar will host the FIFA World Cup 2022 in and around Doha.
Gulfstream announced at NBAA-BACE on October 22 that Qatar Executive, the airline group’s VIP charter arm, would be the launch customer for its new flagship the G700. “Qatar Executive’s latest agreement with Gulfstream is for the purchase of 10 G700 aircraft in addition to their recently announced orders of additional all-new Gulfstream G500 and high-performing G650ER aircraft,” Qatar Airways said.
Qatar Executive now operates 11 Gulfstreams, six G650ERs and five G500s, and has committed to a total of 58 Gulfstreams. “The executive charter service is the world’s largest commercial operator of the G650ER and the first commercial charter operator of the G500,” the airline said.
Qatar Airways announced October 28 it had become the first airline in the world to use the GE360 Foam Wash system after partnering with GE on a three-year trial of the enhanced engine cleaning technology.
In replacing traditional water wash methods to improve engine performance, fuel efficiency and reduce maintenance frequency, the GE360 Foam Wash system works by injecting a heated detergent solution, specially formulated to dissolve dust and dirt particles from the engine gas path. “Unlike traditional water wash systems, the GE360 Foam Wash is a self-contained system, which allows it to be used inside maintenance facilities and is also friendly to the environment,” it said.
By: Peter Shaw-Smith