The network of Qatar Airways will exceed 250 destinations by 2020, the airline's top official said on Monday.
Speaking at a panel discussion on 'Connecting Qatar to new countries with their state- of-the-art airline' organised during the International Products and Exhibition and Conference in Doha, Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar al Baker said,"We are proud to play a major role in building and protecting Qatar's future prosperity. Qatar Airways continues its growth and expansion plans as it has launched 24 new destinations since the start of the illegal blockade, plus increasing the frequency of flights and upgrading the size of aircraft on many existing routes."
"We promote Qatar and our brand through many prominent and prestigious international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup of which we are the major sponsor. By promoting Qatar to the world as a tourism and stopover destination through our subsidiaries, we have experienced a 39% increase in the number of stopover passengers," he said.
Qatar Airways Cargo has been playing a key role in providing the foodstuffs needed by the Qatari market, he said adding Qatar did not face shortage of any products despite the ongoing blockade.
"At the beginning of the blockade, Qatar Airways predicted huge loss of over $1 billion, but we worked hard to exploit opportunities on new routes and the company's financial loss amounted to only $69 million," he said.
He said that Qatar Airways has become one of the strongest airlines at the global level and will continue to expand and enhance its partnerships.
Qatar Airways might consider a fuel surcharge similar to those applied by other airlines, he said.
"We hope we will be able to move to profitability in the current financial year, even though the oil prices are rising," Baker said.
Baker said that US sanctions on Iran will not impact Qatar Airways' flights to the Iran.
"Services to Iran would continue as aviation is not a sanctioned industry. Qatar Airways will continue to operate into the cities we are currently operating in Iran," he said.
Qatar Financial Centre Chief Executive Officer Yousuf al Jaida, who also took part in the discussion, said that QFC-registered companies are expected to make up 5% of market capitalisation of Qatar's stock exchange by 2022.
Qatar Tourism Authority Acting Chairman Hassan Abdulrahman al Ibrahim said several new partnerships with many countries around the world and the opening of new representative offices in many foreign markets contributed to increasing the number of tourists in the third quarters of 2018. He noted that the number of visitors from Russia increased by 214%, while visitors from China rose by 47%.
The number of German visitors also increased by 38% and the number of Indian visitors rose by 25%, he said.
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