Sep 18, 2018: Qatar Airways cargo revenue witnessed an impressive growth of 34.40 percent against cargo capacity available tonne kilometres (ATKs) growing 13.95 percent annually, according to its 2017-18 annual report.

Overall revenue and other operating income grew 7.22 per cent annually compared to capacity ATK growth of 9.96 per cent. Lower revenue growth was directly attributable to the illegal blockade since June 5, 2017, which impacted departing seats by 19 per cent.

The group generated EBITDAR Margin of 23.0 per cent at QAR 9.714 billion. EBITDAR was lower than the previous year by QAR 1.759 billion due to longer flying time resulting from the illegal blockade and loss of departing seats from the blockading countries.

Replacing 18 mature routes, which were closed due to the illegal blockade, the airline opened 14 new destinations during the fiscal year. The destinations include Dublin, Republic of Ireland; Nice, France; Adana, Turkey; St. Petersburg, the Russian Federation; Sohar, Sultanate of Oman; Prague, Czech Republic; Kyiv, Ukraine; Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Thessaloniki, Greece; Penang, Malaysia; Pattaya and Chiang Mai, The Kingdom of Thailand; and Canberra, Australia. As the new destinations come with launch costs and a necessity to establish market presence, resulted in an overall net loss of QAR 252 million. With a positive operating cash inflow, the cash position of the group remained strong at QAR 13.312 billion.

The other new destinations opened were Hatay, Bodrum, Antalya -Turkey; Cardiff and Gatwick - United Kingdom; Mykonos, Greece; and Malaga, Spain. Few destinations to open up includes Cebu and Davao –Philippine; Luxembourg City, Luxembourg; Tallinn, Estonia; Valletta, Malta; Langkawi, Malaysia; and Da Nang, Vietnam.

Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said, “This turbulent year has inevitably had an impact on our financial results, which reflect the negative effect the illegal blockade has had on our airline. However, I am pleased to say that thanks to our robust business planning, swift actions in the face of the crisis, our passenger-focused solutions and dedicated staff, the impact has been minimised – and has certainly not been as negative as our neighbouring countries may have hoped for.”

A strategic and rapid response from the airline when neighbouring countries illegally blocked Qatar’s airspace has put Qatar Airways in a position of strength from which to recover from the unprecedented attack on the country’s sovereignty. Within 10 weeks new destinations to Sohar, Prague and Kyiv were announced and launched, while other routes saw an increase in frequency and capacity, thus swiftly redeploying capacity with a view to soften the impact of being illegally blockaded from 18 regional gateways.

The airline has launched 24 new destinations in total since the start of the blockade, further expanding its network of more than 150 exciting gateways around the world and continuing its ambitious growth plans in Europe and Asia.

Against this backdrop of regional political tension, just six weeks after the start of the blockade, Qatar Airways proved to the world that its neighbours had failed to reach their objective in reducing the airline to collapse by instead winning the coveted title of ‘Skytrax Airline of the Year’ for the fourth time in less than 10 years. The airline also took home awards for ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’.

As the first airline in the world to take delivery of the Airbus A350-1000 in February 2018, the airline added 20 other aircraft to the fleet throughout the financial year, increasing the total number to 213 as of March 31, 2018. In September and December 2017, the airline has made two important additions to their cargo operation by acquiring two Boeing 747-8F aircraft, which are now supporting Qatar Airways Cargo’s rapidly growing freight business.

During the financial year, Qatar Airways Group also continued with the expansion of its investment portfolio to include an initial 9.94 per cent stake in Cathay Pacific, which has since increased to 9.99 percent, as well as a 49 percent share of AQA Holding, the parent company of Meridiana fly, which was relaunched as Air Italy in February 2018.

Qatar Airways Group’s sponsorship with FIFA remains the core of its sponsorship portfolio, and is complemented by the addition of sports partnerships with Bayern München AG, AS Roma and Boca Juniors. These sponsorships further enhance the airline’s commitment to leveraging sports as a means to connecting with passengers across its global network.

Qatar Airways Group undertook a massive airlift of food and grocery items when the illegal blockade was first initiated. This undertaking, arranged entirely by Qatar Airways Cargo, lasted several weeks and used our own fleet, as well as other leased aircraft.

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