DOHA: Qatar Airways said Sunday it received $2.0 billion in state aid to weather the coronavirus crisis, as it posted huge annual losses after enduring one of its "most difficult years".
The firm said that the combination of the coronavirus pandemic, a boycott by Gulf neighbours and the liquidation of 49 percent-owned Air Italy -- which announced its bankruptcy in February -- had resulted in a near doubling of losses, reports AFP.This brought the carrier's net loss for the year to end-March to 7.0 billion riyals ($1.92 billion).
"Qatar Airways is familiar with facing exceptional challenges; however, 2019-20 has been one of the most difficult years in the airline's history," the carrier said in a statement.
The airline confirmed that Qatar had joined a list of governments that have stepped in to support their national carriers through the coronavirus shutdown, which has pummelled global travel and the aviation industry.
The carrier will issue 730 million shares to the government after receiving "an advance of 7.3 billion riyals" ($2.0 billion) after annual losses exceeded 50 percent of share capital, it said in its annual report.
"If not for the exceptional circumstances of fiscal year 2020, our results would have been better than the year before," said the airline's chief executive, Akbar al-Baker.
The report also said that over the 12 months, revenue increased 6.5 percent to 51.1 billion riyals, seat capacity increased by 3.2 percent, and freight handled rose by 2.8 percent.The pandemic compounded an already difficult environment for Qatar Airways. The United Arab Emirates, which was a key market for the Gulf carrier, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, have enforced a boycott of Qatar since June 2017.