Following the most challenging year in its 20-year history, Qatar Airways has published its annual report for 2017/18.
Overall revenue and other operating income grew 7.22 per cent annually compared to capacity (Available Seat Kilometres) growth of 9.96 per cent. Lower revenue growth was directly attributable to the blockade since 5 June 2017, which impacted departing seats by 19 per cent. Cargo revenue witnessed very impressive growth of 34.40 per cent against cargo capacity (Available Tonne Kilometres) growing 13.95 per cent annually.
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 blockade and loss of departing seats from the blockading countries.
Replacing 18 mature routes, which were closed due to the blockade, the airline opened 14 new destinations during the fiscal year (24 new destinations to date). New destinations come with launch costs and the necessity to establish market presence, which 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.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. 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 blocked Qatar’s airspace on 5 June 2017 put Qatar Airways in a position of strength from which to recover from the unprecedented attack on the country’s sovereignty,” the airline said in a statement.
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.
During the financial year, Qatar Airways Group also continued apace 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 per cent, as well as a 49 per cent share of AQA Holding, the parent company of Meridiana fly, which was relaunched as Air Italy in February 2018.