“Whilst our competitors grounded their aircraft and closed their routes, we adapted our entire commercial operation to respond to ever-evolving travel restrictions and never stopped flying,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker said in a statement.
The airline acknowledged receiving a $3 billion lifeline from the Qatari government to keep operating as it struggled with virus restrictions. Revenue for the airline fell to over $8 billion from $14 billion the year before. The airline incurred charges that ran to $2.3 billion over the grounding of its wide-body fleet.
The carrier took just 5.8 million passengers to the skies in the last fiscal year, compared to 32.3 million the year before — a staggering 82% drop.
Qatar Airways, which operates some 250 aircraft out of Doha’s recently built Hamad International Airport, follows the model of other Gulf carriers by providing a link between East and West from its location on the Arabian Peninsula. The other two biggest carriers in the region that depend on lucrative long-haul routes, Dubai-based Emirates and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, also hit turbulence because of the pandemic, posting significant losses in the billions of dollars over the past year.
Emirates, for instance, reported a $5.5 billion loss over the last year and received a $3.1 billion cash infusion from the Dubai government.
Qatar Airways mentioned some scant signs of recovery, as vaccinations against the coronavirus accelerate across the world. From a low of 33 destinations in the peak of the pandemic, the airline now flies to over 140 and has expanded to new markets from Seattle, Washington to Brisbane, Australia.