The Doha-based airline has effectively been penalized for operating the world’s biggest passenger jet, the A380, which isn't much use when you can't fly many long-haul routes.
Qatar Airways Group on Monday reported a doubling of annual losses to $4.1 billion, hit by the Covid-19 collapse in long-haul travel and aircraft impairment charges.
The state-owned group, which includes the airline and other aviation assets, said it booked a one-off impairment of $2.24 billion on its fleet 10 Airbus A380s and 16 A330s jets.
Its operating loss shrank 7 percent to $293 million.
CEO Akbar Al Baker has cautioned that the A380s, the world’s biggest passenger jet, may never return to the airline’s operational fleet due to the impact of the pandemic.
The financial result for the year to March 31 compares with a $1.95 billion loss in the year prior, which was also hit by an airspace ban by Saudi Arabia and others that ended in January.
Total revenue and other operating income fell 42.5 percent to $7.84 billion. Passenger revenue fell nearly 80 percent to $2.11 billion.
The number of passengers carried dropped 82 percent to 5.8 million.
Qatar Airways also reconfirmed it had received $3 billion in state support since the onset of the pandemic, provided via equity injections from its sole shareholder, the State of Qatar.
It said it did not receive any subsidies in the form of salary support, tax relief or grants, while employees took a 15 percent temporary pay cut and the workforce shrank 27 percent to 36,707.
Dubai’s Emirates lost $5.5 billion in the same period and has received $3.1 billion in equity injections from the state throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Qatar Airways and Emirates have no domestic markets to cushion against border restrictions and closures introduced to stop the spread of Covid-19.
After drastically cutting services last year, airlines have gradually increased services as countries increasingly ease travel restrictions with more of their population vaccinated.
Qatar Airways said it now flies to over 140 destinations, up from a low of 33 during the pandemic.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; editing by David Evans and Dan Grebler)
Photo credit: Qatar Airways has received $3 billion in state support since the start of the pandemic. Saif Zaman / Unsplash