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Qatar Airways group flies into profitability

The Qatar Airways group recorded its first profit last year, and its main revenue earner Qatar Airways broke even, chief executive Akbar Al Baker said at the show.

The airline broke even in its fiscal year to the end of March 2004 four years ahead of schedule, said Al Baker. However, it does not release actual financial figures.

High oil prices and a competitive Gulf travel market will put strain on profitability at the airline this year, but income from its subsidiaries will ensure that the group remains in the black, he said.

Syndicate

In addition to the airline, the Qatar Airways group includes Doha International Airport, the airline's corporate aircraft business, ground handling, in-flight catering, duty-free and a liquor syndicate.

Qatar Airways has been expanding capacity rapidly in the past few years. It flew 3.35 million passengers in the year to March 2004, and expects to reach the 4.5 million mark this year, said Al Baker.

At present the airline has 34 Airbus types in service, a number that will rise to 42 by year-end. Its current order book for deliveries through 2007-8 will see its fleet expand to 52 aircraft.

Its order backlog includes two A380s, which Qatar will receive in 2009. "We delayed the delivery of the A380s from 2007 to 2009 for the simple reason that the new Doha airport will not be ready until 2008," said Al Baker.

Despite being an all-Airbus customer today, Al Baker is interested in Boeing's 7E7-8 and the stretched -9. The carrier is likely to place further orders next year to boost capacity for the 2008 time frame and to replace its A300-600s, he said.

MARK PILLING

 

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