Qatar Airways has been experiencing “very high” load factor across its network despite the “unfortunate conflict” in the Middle East, says the airline's Group CEO Badr Mohamed al-Meer.

“Our industry has proven to be resilient. Despite the unfortunate conflict in the Middle East – our numbers continue to grow, when it comes to passengers,” al-Meer said at a session at the recently concluded Qatar Economic Forum.

He said the surge in passenger numbers has been reflected on traffic through the Hamad International Airport (HIA).

“At HIA, we recorded 30% increase in passengers last year. This year, so far, from January 1 to May 14, we have seen a 27% increase in the number of passengers.”

Al-Meer said: “Our load factor is the highest among major airlines. For example, we see our flights to the US having a 95-96% load factor, on average. Our flights to Australia, India and basically to our entire network, see load factor averaging between 85% and 88%, which is very high. This proves, people want to travel.”

Asked whether the conflict in the Middle East or other geopolitical issues have an impact on the airline business, al-Meer said: “We have not seen any significant impact.”

At the same panel session, RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo noted: “Demand has really grown, driven by people’s strong desire to travel. There is no major difference between the peak and slack season now. Demand has really grown, driven by people’s strong desire to travel.

“Although my continent (Africa) also faces geopolitical issues, we have not seen any major impact. The demand still remains strong despite geo-politics.”

She said airlines around the world have rebounded, post-Covid. Every airline now sees huge demand for seats.

“There are lots of opportunities we need to tap into right now, particularly in Africa. Delaying that process is a big challenge,” she noted.

Al-Meer also said all airlines are currently facing the “same problem” because of late deliveries of their orders.

“We are one of the major airlines, which is trying our best to assess both Boeing and Airbus and trying to find solutions for them to make sure they deliver based on the timelines they have given us.

“I know they are under so much pressure when it comes to the supply chain market...with their suppliers. But they need to put more pressure on those suppliers to make sure that airlines stop bleeding.”

Al-Meer added: “The demand in the industry has picked up. It is very high. Unfortunately, for our passengers...our customers, we are not able to meet their demand because of the shortage of aircraft in the market.”
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