Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker has urged the oil industry to invest more in alternative fuel that will protect the environment.
Participating in a panel session at the World Financial Symposium in Doha, al-Baker said, “What we are asking from the industry (oil and gas) is that they should invest more in alternate fuel that will protect our environment, although we are not the biggest polluter.
“We are the minute polluter – just over 2.6% of the (total) emissions is not a big figure. But we are targeted…the aviation industry is unfairly blamed for global warming. So we now depend on oil companies and we are ready to buy sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), provided it is reasonably priced.
“As I stated, I have no issue in paying a bit more, but I cannot pay four of five times the price of the normal Avgas (aviation gasoline), because it will not be affordable to us. And if we are pushed to do that… you as a passenger are going to pay for it.
“This is because airlines’ operate with very low margin. I don’t think there is any other industry in the world that operates with 4% or 5% margin.
In 2021, Qatar Airways committed to using sustainable aviation fuel for at least 10% of combined fuel volumes by 2030, provided that a few suppliers produce more SAF.
He said, “Because of oil price volatility, we cannot hedge anymore as banks are not ready to hedge. This is because they don’t know where the price is going – north or south.”
“That said, oil price is not in the hands of anyone – it is based on demand and supply and the political climate around the world.”
Speaking on the challenges facing the industry, post-pandemic, he said, “We were coming out of the pandemic when the conflict started… we are still profitable by the grace of god. But no one can predict what will happen in future.
“For me the biggest worry is the conflict spreading, which will then add to inflation and put pressure on airlines. And the net result will be fewer passengers in my airline.”
“Despite optimism and rebound in travel, post-pandemic, we are still in dangerous times due to conflicts around the world. Unfortunately, as soon as we start seeing a recovery, something else happens… and put pressure on our bottom line. As CEO of an airline I am concerned about that.”
Highlighting Qatar Airways commitment to invest in a low-carbon future and safeguard the environment, al-Baker said, “In 2021, Qatar Airways committed to using sustainable aviation fuel for at least 10% of combined fuel volumes by 2030, provided that a few suppliers produce more SAF.
IATA director general Willie Walsh also participated in the panel session moderated by Hadley Gamble, CNBC Anchor and senior international correspondent.
The 2022 World Financial Symposium (WFS) is focusing on reshaping airline resilience.
Following the greatest shock to aviation in history, the industry is emerging rapidly from the pandemic and government-mandated travel restrictions of the past two years. Industry losses are expected to reduce to $9.7bn this year from nearly $180bn in red ink in 2020-21.
As travel barriers fall in most regions, very strong demand is supporting expectations for a recovery to pre-Covid-19 traffic levels by 2024, with profitability a possibility in 2023.
At the same time airline debt levels have soared as carriers borrowed to stay aloft during the crisis. And finance departments across the industry will face challenges as the industry achieves its 2050 fly net zero commitment.