partlycloudy
Sunday June 24th, 2018 8:44AM

AP interview: CEO says Qatar Air will grow despite blockade

By The Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Qatar Airways' chief executive said Tuesday the carrier will post a loss this year because four other Arab countries have severed land, air and sea links with Qatar.

Akbar al-Baker said the boycott on Qatar's flagship airline flying to neighboring Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt that since last summer has forced it to fly longer routes through Turkey and Iran has hit the company's bottom line, but not its expansion plans.

"We have increased maintenance costs because we are flying longer routes, we have more fuel consumption, so the cost to the airline is rising and I have already stated that the airline will post a loss this year due to the blockade, but this doesn't mean that we are going to shrink," al-Baker said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We will keep on expanding and growing the company."

Speaking in the Australian capital Canberra where Qatar Airways has become the first international airline to offer daily flights, al-Baker said his state-owned airline might know by April the size of the loss. He could not give a timeline on when the new routes would make up for markets lost.

"It all depends on how quick we will be able to mature the new destinations that we are operating instead of the destinations that were taken away from us during the blockade," al-Baker said.

"The world is not only these four blockading countries. The world is very large and we are always looking at new opportunities which we have been doing very successfully. We will grow everywhere, not only by ... new destinations but also grow frequencies," he added.

Qatar's four neighbors have effectively cut their air, land and sea links, isolating it, though there is no military blockade.

President Donald Trump last year denounced Qatar for allegedly funding terrorism.

But al-Baker has ruled out any reputational damage for his airline or his country from that accusation of supporting extremists that led to the severing of Qatar's links with its neighbors.

"Mr. Trump realizes that he was misinformed, misled by the blockading countries to believe that Qatar was a pariah in the region, which is not the case. We are a big supporter and an ally of the United States," he said.

Al-Baker rejected reports last month from the Unites Arab Emirates, home of the world's busiest airport in Dubai, that Qatari fighter jets had "intercepted" Emirati commercial airliners. The air forces of Qatar's boycotting neighbors have never intercepted a Qatar Airways airliner, he said.

"This is false news just to increase the temperature and find ways to expand the conflict," al-Baker said.

The United States and Qatar last month inked a deal to resolve a years-old quarrel over alleged airline subsidies.

The aviation agreement calls for Qatar Airways to open up its accounting books: U.S. airlines say the company receives billions of dollars in government payments that leave them at a competitive disadvantage. Qatar also made a loose commitment not to launch flights to the United States from Europe or other non-Qatari cities that would create yet more competition for U.S. carriers.

Al-Baker denied his airline was subsidized and said he had no interest in using "fifth freedom" rights to stop in other countries en route to the United States.

Al-Baker told reporters at a Kuwait air show last month that a U.S. start-up airline had offered Qatar Airways a 25 percent stake.

The offer remains "under wraps," al-Baker said Tuesday.

"But Qatar as a country and Qatar Airways are very keen to invest in the United States," al-Baker said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Conservatives lash out at GOP spending binge
Trump budget fallout: Conservatives decry "irresponsible" spending binge
12:58AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Winners and losers under Medicare drug plan in Trump budget
Some Medicare beneficiaries face higher drug costs under Trump's budget even as the sickest patients save money
12:55AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Official's departure adds to strain of vacancies at Justice
The sudden departure of the Justice Department's No. 3 official is adding to the turmoil at an agency that already lacks permanent, politically appointed leaders for many of its most important divisions
12:53AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump's high-spending budget reverses longtime GOP dogma
In spite of longtime GOP deficit dogma, Trump's budget for upcoming fiscal year calls for steep cuts to America's social safety net and mounting spending on military
12:16AM ( 53 minutes ago )
Official: US believes ex-Venezuela oil czar took bribes
U.S. prosecutors believe Venezuela's former oil czar received bribes as part of a major graft scheme that allegedly took place in the OPEC nation's oil industry, says an American official familiar with the probe
12:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
Hospital OKs agreement with Ohio city's last abortion clinic
A hospital system has authorized a patient-transfer agreement to keep the last abortion clinic in one Ohio city operating
11:36PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Conservatives lash out at GOP spending binge
Trump budget fallout: Conservatives decry "irresponsible" spending binge
12:58AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Winners and losers under Medicare drug plan in Trump budget
Some Medicare beneficiaries face higher drug costs under Trump's budget even as the sickest patients save money
12:55AM ( 14 minutes ago )
Official's departure adds to strain of vacancies at Justice
The sudden departure of the Justice Department's No. 3 official is adding to the turmoil at an agency that already lacks permanent, politically appointed leaders for many of its most important divisions
12:53AM ( 17 minutes ago )
South Africa's ruling party struggles with Zuma dilemma
Leaders of South Africa's ruling ANC party are struggling to remove President Jacob Zuma from office amid media reports that he asked for concessions in exchange for his resignation
12:50AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Democrats hold Minnesota Senate seat in high-stakes election
Minnesota Democrats have held on to a state Senate seat in a special election, preserving their hopes of retaking the chamber later this year
12:38AM ( 32 minutes ago )