Qatar Airways CEO warns airline is running out of funds, will need government support

It's one of the last airlines operating during the pandemic, including NZ flights.
It's one of the last airlines operating during the pandemic, including NZ flights. Photo credit: Getty Images

The CEO of Qatar Airways says the renowned Middle Eastern airline is running out of cash and will need support from the Qatari government.

In an interview with Reuters, Akbar al-Baker said despite being one of the handful of airlines still operating a relatively normal schedule during the coronavirus crisis, it can only do so for so long.

"We have received many requests from governments all over the world, embassies in certain countries, requesting Qatar Airways not stop flying," Baker told the news agency.

Qatar Airways is running a promotional campaign based on getting people home during the COVID-19 pandemic as the airline continues services in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

As Air New Zealand has ceased its London services, Qatar Airways is one of the last options for Kiwis trapped in Europe to get home in the current conditions. 

"We will fly as long as it is necessary and we have requests to get stranded people to their homes, provided the airspace is open and the airports are open," Baker said.

"We will surely go to our government [for help] eventually."

Like many other airlines, Qatar Airways employees have taken both paid and unpaid leave. Baker himself won't be paid a salary until things return to normal.

The airline was likely to report a loss this financial year even before the crisis. Baker said despite its main rivals Emirates and Etihad grounding their fleets, this hasn't had any positive knock-on effects for Qatar Airways.

In 2018, the airline lost US$69 million, which rose to a whopping US$639 million in 2019.

Qatar Airways is 100 percent owned by the Qatari government.