Qatar Airways Quadruples Profit on Lower Fuel Costs, New Routesby
Carrier eyes African, Indian markets for future sales growth
Drop in fuel price did not offset drop in energy sector travel
Qatar Airways Ltd. full-year profit more than quadrupled as the carrier expanded its wide-body jet fleet, added routes and benefited from a drop in fuel costs along with oil prices.
Net income rose to 1.6 billion Riyals ($439 million) in the 12 months through March, the Persian Gulf’s second-largest carrier said in its first published full-year results on Monday. The state-owned airline added 13 new routes in the period and became the first carrier to fly the Airbus Group SE A350XWB to the U.S. Qatar Airways plans to add 17 new destinations in the current fiscal year, including Auckland and Helsinki.
The fastest rate of growth in the short-to-medium term is expected to come from African and Indian markets, the company said. New African destinations to be added this year include Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and Libreville in Gabon. South America and China continue to see “strong underlying growth,” the airline said.
Qatar Airways, along with Gulf peers Emirates and Etihad Airways, has come under scrutiny for more than a year over allegations by U.S. rivals that it receives state subsidies, a claim that all three consistently deny. U.S. carriers American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Airlines Inc. have urged the Obama administration to hold formal negotiations with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar over the dispute.
The airline’s fuel costs dropped to 9.2 million riyals from 12.8 million riyals the previous year. However, the lower oil price also hurt bookings from the energy sector as demand fell, the company said.