Qatar Airways to grow despite boycott, CEO says

Akbar Al-Baker said his state-owned airline might know by April the size of the loss. (AP)
Updated 13 February 2018
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Qatar Airways to grow despite boycott, CEO says

CANBERRA, Australia: Qatar Airways’ chief executive said Tuesday the carrier will post a loss this year because four other Arab countries have severed land, air and sea links with Qatar.
Akbar Al-Baker said his state-owned airline might know by April the size of the loss. He could not give a timeline on when the new routes would make up for markets lost.
“It all depends on how quick we will be able to mature the new destinations that we are operating instead of the destinations that were taken away from us during the boycott,” Al-Baker said.
“The world is very large and we are always looking at new opportunities which we have been doing very successfully. We will grow everywhere, not only by ... new destinations but also grow frequencies,” he added.
Qatar’s four neighbors have effectively cut their air, land and sea links, isolating it, though there is no military boycott.
President Donald Trump last year denounced Qatar for allegedly funding terrorism.
But Al-Baker has ruled out any reputational damage for his airline or his country from that accusation of supporting extremists that led to the severing of Qatar’s links with its neighbors.
“Mr. Trump realizes that he was misinformed, misled by the blockading countries to believe that Qatar was a pariah in the region, which is not the case. We are a big supporter and an ally of the United States,” he said.
Al-Baker rejected reports last month from the UAE, home of the world’s busiest airport in Dubai, that Qatari fighter jets had “intercepted” Emirati commercial airliners. The air forces of Qatar’s boycotting neighbors have never intercepted a Qatar Airways airliner, he said.
“This is false news just to increase the temperature and find ways to expand the conflict,” Al-Baker said.
The US and Qatar last month inked a deal to resolve a years-old quarrel over alleged airline subsidies.
The aviation agreement calls for Qatar Airways to open up its accounting books: US airlines say the company receives billions of dollars in government payments that leave them at a competitive disadvantage. Qatar also made a loose commitment not to launch flights to the US from Europe or other non-Qatari cities that would create yet more competition for US carriers.
Al-Baker denied his airline was subsidized and said he had no interest in using “fifth freedom” rights to stop in other countries en route to the US.
Al-Baker told reporters at a Kuwait air show last month that a US start-up airline had offered Qatar Airways a 25 percent stake.
The offer remains “under wraps,” Al-Baker said Tuesday.
“But Qatar as a country and Qatar Airways are very keen to invest in the United States,” Al-Baker said.


Oil eases from 4-month high on global growth worries

Updated 19 min 9 sec ago
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Oil eases from 4-month high on global growth worries

  • The losses came amid worries over global economic growth after the US Federal Reserve highlighted signs of a slowing economy
SYDNEY: Oil prices edged lower on Thursday, retreating from a four-month peak, as fears of a slowing global economy weighed on market sentiment.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $60.16 per barrel at 0040 GMT, down 7 cents, or 0.1 percent, from their last settlement. WTI had earlier hit a high of $60.19 a barrel — the highest since November 12.
International Brent crude oil futures were at $68.47 a barrel, down 3 cents from their last close. Brent touched $68.57 a barrel on Wednesday, its highest since November 13.
The losses came amid worries over global economic growth after the US Federal Reserve highlighted signs of a slowing economy.
Markets have been underpinned, however, by efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to curb supply, and losses were checked as widely watched US data showed supplies were tightening.
“Oil markets appear convinced that the continued effects of the Saudi Arabia oil production cuts and falling exports to the US will continue to outweigh the concerns of rising US production,” said Alfonso Esparza, senior market analyst at brokerage, OANDA.
US crude oil stockpiles last week fell by nearly 10 million barrels, the most since July, boosted by strong export and refining demand, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
Stockpiles fell 9.6 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 309,000 barrels. The draw brought stockpiles to their lowest since January.
Gasoline and distillate inventories both fell by more than expected. Gasoline stocks fell by 4.6 million barrels, while distillate inventories fell by 4.1 million barrels.