Qatar Airways has received about $2bn in state aid to weather the COVID-19 pandemic, as it posted significant annual losses after enduring one of its “most difficult years”.
The Qatari state-owned carrier stated that the combination of the pandemic, a boycott by Gulf neighbours, and the liquidation of 49 percent-owned Air Italy which announced it bankruptcy in February resulted in a near doubling of losses.
This had brought the carrier’s net loss for the year to end-March to 7 billion riyals that is about $1.92bn, thereby making Qatar Airways in need of the aid.
“Qatar Airways is familiar with facing challenges; however, 2019-20 has been one of the most difficult years in the airline’s history,” the carrier said in a statement.
The airline confirmed that Qatar had joined a list of governments that have stepped in to support their national carriers to get aid through the coronavirus shutdown, which pummelled global travel and the aviation industry.
The carrier will issue 730 million shares to the government after getting “an advance of 7.3 billion riyals” ($2bn) after annual losses exceeded 50 percent of share capital, it said in its annual report.
“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, Akbar al-Baker.
The report also stated that over the 12 months, revenue had increased from 6.5 percent to 51.1 billion riyals ($14bn), seat capacity also increased by 3.2 percent, and freight handled rose by 2.8 percent.
The coronavirus pandemic halted global aviation for months, which has only begun to pick back up.
The true impact of the pandemic on Qatar Airways is still unclear as global lockdowns continued after its financial year ended in March.