Qatar Airways blames 2018 loss on blockade

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Qatar Airways said it
lost $69 million this fiscal year, blaming the loss on the ongoing boycott of
Doha by four Arab nations.

The airline struck a defiant tone while releasing the
results for the fiscal year that ended March 31.

“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,” Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker said in a

“However, I am pleased to say … the impact has been
minimized — and has certainly not been as negative as our neighboring
countries may have hoped for,” he added.

The boycott locked Qatar Airways out of the airspace of
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, forcing the airline
to take longer flights consuming more jet fuel, raising expenses. The carrier
said 18 routes were “closed due to the illegal blockade.”

Boycotting nations say the crisis stems from Qatar’s support
for extremist groups in the region, charges denied by Doha. Their demands
include Qatar limiting diplomatic ties to Iran, shutting down the state-funded
Al-Jazeera satellite news network and other media outlets, and severing ties to
all “terrorist organizations,” including the Muslim Brotherhood and
Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Mediation by Kuwait and the United States has failed to stop
the boycott. America relies on Qatar’s massive al-Udeid Air Base to host the
forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command.

Qatar Airways continues to compete with the region’s other
marquee long-haul carriers, Dubai-based Emirates and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, in
connecting the East and West.


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