Qatar Air Gets $2 Billion State Aid to Weather Virus Crisis

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Qatar Airways received 7.3 billion riyals ($2 billion) state aid as the coronavirus pandemic brought global air travel to a near halt.

The carrier will issue 730 million shares to the government after its losses exceeded 50% of the share capital, according to Qatar Airways’ annual report.

Qatar joins a list of governments that have been forced to step in to save their national carriers, with the likes of Deutsche Lufthansa SA and Dubai’s Emirates receiving billions of dollars to sustain them through the crisis. While many borders have reopened as the initial surge in infections waned, the pace of recovery has been hampered by subsequent restrictions to help contain fresh outbreaks.

The state-owned airline’s fiscal-year loss widened amid lockdowns linked to the virus and Air Italy’s liquidation. Qatar Airways, which owns 49% of the embattled carrier, posted about a 1.4 billion-riyal operating loss from its investment in Air Italy.

“If not for the exceptional circumstances of fiscal year 2020, our results would have been better than the year before,” Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said.

The airline’s troubles compounded an already tough operating environment from airspace closures by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since 2017.

Numbers for FY ending March:

  • Loss rose 47% to 7 billion riyals
  • Total revenue climbed 6.4% to 51.1 billion riyals
  • Passenger numbers rise 9.8% to 32.4 million
  • Airline had a cash balance of 7.3 billion riyals at year end

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