Qatar Airways grows cargo business, but makes overall loss

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Qatar Airways Cargo’s freight revenue increased by 34.4 per cent in the last financial year despite the carrier having to battle the blockade enforced by some countries in the Middle East.

The airline reported the figures in its annual report for 2017/18 that cargo revenue reached 8.5 billion Qatari Riyal (QR)(US$2.3 billion), up on the 6.3 billion QR the year before.

Tonnage was also up to 1,359,203 tonnes, a surge on the 1,153,825 in the previous year and cargo capacity in available tonne kilometres grew by 13.95 per cent.

Qatar Airways as a whole posted revenue of 38.3 billion QR in 2017/18, up on the 35.6 billion QR in 2016/17. However, the carrier said EBITDAR was lower than the previous year by 1.759 billion QR due to longer flying time resulting from the illegal blockade.

The airline made a loss of 252 million QR ($69 million) in the fiscal year ending 31 March compared to a profit of 2.7 billion QR in 2016/17 which it put down to the “illegal blockade” and added costs from operating new routes to get around the Gulf crisis.

The cargo arm has had to move more cargo due to shortages of goods in Qatar and this led to a 14.52 per cent surge in freight volumes at Doha’s Hamad International Airport to 2,068,073 tonnes.

The carrier said 2017/18 was the “most challenging year” in its 20-year history, and the results demonstrate the airline’s “strength and resilience in the face of adversity”.

Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker said: “This turbulent year has inevitably had an impact on our financial results, which reflect the negative effect the illegal blockade has had on our airline.

“However, I am pleased to say that 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.”