Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) is expecting to reduce its losses in the fiscal year ending in March after a surge in sales had led to an improvement in load factors, claimed the Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Akbar Al Baker at a media briefing during the Kuwait Aviation Show 2020, and attended by Bloomberg.

“Our losses are half of what we budgeted,” Al Baker said on January 15. Reducing costs and “being very aggressive in the way we sell” has resulted in the improvement. The CEO explained that the losses were not caused by the Saudi Arabia-led blockade of the country but were due to higher operating expenses, including increased fuel prices, and that he expected that the airline would break-even in the next financial year (FY) and could post profits in FY2021-22.

Al Baker also discussed his continued interest in acquiring a stake in IndiGo Airlines (6E, Delhi Int'l). The Oneworld carrier is ready to buy as much as the Indian airline "can give us" said the CEO. The two airlines already have a codeshare agreement and are looking to increase capacity on the busiest routes between India and Qatar in the wake of Jet Airways' demise in April last year.

Also during the media briefing, Al Baker stated that Qatar Airways would continue to fly to Iran despite the recent tensions between the Middle East country and the US, and the Ukraine International Airlines (PS, Kyiv Boryspil) B737-800 crash. The Middle Eastern carrier flies from Doha Hamad Int'l 38x weekly to Iran, with 22x weekly flights to Tehran Imam Khomeini, daily routes to Mashad and Shiraz, and a 2x weekly service to Isfahan Int'l.

Also on January 15 in Kuwait, the airline announced eight new routes which will expand the carrier's network to 177 global destinations and added to the Santorini, Dubrovnik, and Osaka Kansai routes which were recently revealed by Qatar Airways. The new city pairs and their respective start dates and frequencies are:

  • Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan – 2x weekly flights starting March 30, 2020;
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan – 2x weekly flights starting April 1, 2020, increasing to 4x weekly flights from May 25, 2020;
  • Cebu, Philippines – 3x weekly flights starting April 8, 2020;
  • Accra, Ghana – Daily flights starting April 15, 2020;
  • Trabzon, Turkey – 3x weekly flights starting May 20, 2020;
  • Lyon St. Exupéry, France – 5x weekly flights starting June 23, 2020;
  • Luanda, Angola – 4x weekly flights starting October 14, 2020;
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia – 5x weekly flights starting November 16, 2020.

The airline currently has no passenger flights to Kazakhstan but does offer a 2x weekly cargo service from Doha to Almaty. Similarly, Accra is on the carrier's cargo network, but it will now gain a daily passenger flight.

Cebu will become the airline's fourth destination in the Philippines, joining its existing operations to Manila Ninoy Aquino Int'l, Clark and Davao. Turkey is already an important market for Qatar Airways, as the carrier now serves Adana, Ankara Esenboga, Istanbul New, Istanbul Sabiha Gökcen, and Izmir. Lyon will become the airline's third destination in France and will strengthen the market which is already its fifth most important for Qatar Airways in Europe behind the UK, Italy, Germany and, Spain.

Angola will now be attached to the Qatar Airways network for the first time, although Luanda is already served by its Middle East competitor Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l). The Oneworld carrier will make Siem Reap its second destination in Cambodia, as it already serves Phnom Penh via Ho Chi Minh City daily. A Cambodia Airports official has since confirmed that Siem Reap will be served by Qatar Airways' incoming fleet of A321-200neo(LR)s.