Qatar Airways has seen a 39% increase in the number of stopover passengers “by promoting Qatar to the world as a tourism and stopover destination” through its subsidiaries, said Group Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker.
“Through our commitment to excellence, we bring Qatar to the world, hoping to earn the right to bring the world to Qatar, and our strategy is working,” al-Baker said during his special address at the International Products Exhibition and Conference (IPEC) 2018 in Doha on Monday.
Al-Baker said Qatar Airways was “proud to play a major role in building and protecting Qatar’s future prosperity.”
Qatar Airways continues its growth and expansion plans as it has launched 24 new destinations since the start of the illegal blockade, plus increasing the frequency of flights and upgrading the size of aircraft on many existing routes.
As many as 18 mature routes were closed due to the illegal blockade Qatar by a quartet of Arab countries, he noted.
On the illegal blockade, al-Baker said: “Their clear intention was to endanger the economy of the State of Qatar by threatening the livelihood of residents, but the State of Qatar and Qatar Airways responded to protect the nation, the people, the economy and the airline’s customers. They failed in that,” he said.
On the net loss of $69mn made by Qatar Airways in fiscal 2018, he said, “The blockade has inevitably had an impact on our financial results, which reflected the negative effect the illegal blockade has had on our airline.”
“In the days following the blockade”, al-Baker said, “we had to make a forecast of how our business would be. We estimated a loss much higher than the $69mn we had incurred in fiscal 2018.”
Al-Baker said: “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.”
Just six weeks after the start of the blockade, Qatar Airways proved to the world that its neighbours had failed to reach their objective in reducing the airline to collapse by instead winning the coveted title of ‘Skytrax Airline of the Year’ for the fourth time in less than 10 years.
The airline also took home awards for ‘World’s Best Business Class’, ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’
The Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive also spoke about the airline’s focus on developing national talent and said, “We have a good scholarship scheme in place to attract local talent.”
Al-Baker also spoke at a panel discussion titled ‘Strategies and initiatives towards national vision 2030’.
The discussion focused on upcoming projects and opportunities regarding the FIFA World Cup 2022, as well as plans for launching new strategies and initiatives in Qatar aimed at fulfilling the Qatar National Vision 2030.
Other speakers on the panel included the Acting Chairman and Chief Tourism Development Officer Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), Hassan Abdulrahman al-Ibrahim; as well Qatar National Bank (QNB) Group Chief Executive Officer, Ali Ahmed al-Kuwari; and Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Chief Executive Officer, Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida.
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