National carrier Qatar Airways will “march on” with its plans to add new destinations and is “successfully mitigating” some of the impact of the network disruptions, Group Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said at the Paris Air Show on Monday.
The airline has no plans to defer any plane deliveries, the CEO said and noted that a boycott by four Arab countries will not halt Qatar Airways’ growth or plans to accept delivery of new aircraft.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 following which these countries closed their airspace to Qatar Airways, forcing it to fly longer route planes and thereby adding costs.
"There has been a monetary impact," al-Baker said.
"We have had a lot of cancellations, especially to the four countries that did this illegal blockade, but we have found new markets and this is our growth strategy," he said.
Al-Baker said Qatar was not the only country affected by the crisis.
"All these countries have families on either side of the borders; they have relatives, children, investments. Eventually people will realise that the move they have done against my country was ill-thought out and ill-advised and that life has to come back to normal," he said.
Qatar is talking with the United Nations' aviation agency, ICAO, about the airspace rights' dispute, and al-Baker said he was disappointed with their actions thus far.
"I don't think they have moved enough, I don't think they have taken this matter very seriously," he said.
He said Qatar Airways had plenty of growth opportunities elsewhere, citing new routes opening this month to Dublin, Skopje and Sarajevo as examples.
QA to ask US for airport audit to combat laptop ban
Qatar Airways is in the process of asking the US department of Homeland Security to visit its hub in Doha and carry out an audit of security at the airport in light of the restrictions on large electronics devices in cabins, the carrier's CEO said.
"I am sure that the Department of Transport and Homeland Security will revisit this," Akbar al-Baker told journalists at the Paris Air Show on Monday. "The best way for them to mitigate it is by doing an audit on the airports."
He said he was not seeing a big impact on Qatar Airways, and that an average of 10-15 devices were being handed in per flight.