State-owned flag carrier Qatar Airways has reported a $1.9 billion loss for its 2019-2020 fiscal year. The airline said Sunday the loss was mainly a result of the continued disruptions from coronavirus. Other contributing factors were the liquidation of shares in Air Italy and the continued boycott of Doha by four other Arab nations.
Owing to the downturn in world travel demand Qatar Airways had to be bailed out by the government in March. The country provided more than $2 billion to keep it afloat. Since then, the company has been struggling to reduce costs and halt its continued cash burn.
"If not for the exceptional circumstances of fiscal year 2020, our results would have been better than the year before," the airline's chief executive officer Akbar al-Baker said.
Like other long-haul carriers in the region, including Etihad and Emirates, Qatar Airways has had to impose cost-cutting such as company wide job cuts. Over the past few months, airlines have been trying to expand networks as travel restrictions start to lift worldwide. Despite the slow easing of travel restrictions, demand for flights has continued to be extremely low.
Owing to the demand downturn, Qatar Airways was forced to temporarily retire some of its planes, which numbered around 250 before the pandemic. Last month, the company announced it would be grounding some of its double-decker Airbus A380s. In a statement, Qatar Airways said that the continued use of the aircraft was no longer "commercially or environmentally justifiable."
Qatar Airways officials remain optimistic about the airline's ability to get back to pre-pandemic profitability levels. Al-Baker said he had every confidence the company would be able to emerge stronger from the crisis.
Qatar Airways continues to struggle from the boycott imposed by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which commenced in 2017. The company's finances were also hurt by the collapse of Air Italy in February. Qatar Airways held a 49% stake in the carrier.