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Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Passengers flying with Qatar Airways may soon have to pay an increased fuel surcharge, the airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker has said.

He told Reuters this week that the change has due to rebounding oil prices, which have risen by 20 percent in the past three months.

“Soon, I think not only Qatar Airways but most of the airlines will re-introduce the fuel surcharges because they budgeted on lower fuel price and prices are now rising rapidly,” he said.

The airline had announced a cut to its fuel surcharges two years ago in response to low oil prices, but did not completely remove the fee from its fares.

Fuel surcharge confusion

However, Al Baker caused significant confusion in a Newsweek interview last year, in which he said that his airline had “erased” fuel surcharges completely.

These comments directly contradicted price breakdown data on his airline’s website, which showed that a fuel surcharge remained in place when the interview was published in February last year.

To test whether this remained the case, Doha News ran a new spot-check on the airline’s website.

Fuel charges

Screenshot of the Qatar Airways website on Jan. 13, 2017

After picking a random date in February for a return economy flight from Doha to New York, the fare breakdown clearly showed a fuel surcharge of QR520 on the route.

Al Baker has not disclosed when the surcharge is likely to increase, or by how much.

Qatar Airways has not yet responded to our request for clarification on its fuel surcharge policy.

Oil price pressure

Rising oil prices are likely to affect Qatar Airways’ bottom line this year.

Last summer, the airline publicly shared its financial results for the first time.

The numbers, which reflected its performance in the 2015/2016 fiscal year, showed that lower gas prices had helped reduced expenses by 1.5 percent.

The airline spent QR9.2 billion on fuel during in the year ending March 2016, down significantly from the QR12.8 billion it spent on fuel in 2014-15.

Thoughts?

QIFF

Qatar International Food Fair “food truck”

Qatar’s Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) is inviting business owners to apply for a license to take their show on the road next year.

In a statement this week, the MEC said it is seeking 12 vendors to operate food trucks, conduct service repairs and operate mobile beauty salons in Qatar.

Such trucks will be either driven by people and used for selling goods or services on streets, roadsides or other public places.

Burgeri/Facebook

Burgeri food truck

Five of the licenses will go toward food-related activities. Four will be for maintenance and repair, such as plumbing and electrical work, and three for beauty and tailoring services.

Currently, Burgeri is the only food truck operating in Qatar. The Museum of Islamic Art previously floated the idea of adding a food truck concept to its park, but this never came to pass.

Applications for MEC’s licenses will open on Jan. 1 for one month. A public draw of qualified applicants will be held and winners will be announced the following week.

Requirements

The MEC said the move was part of efforts to boost the private sector. However, there are lots of prerequisites to applying.

Applicants will already need to have a commercial registration (CR). They are also required to obtain a road permit from the Traffic Department and health certificates from the Ministry of Public Health.

Food trucks will also need Civil Defense and Ministry of Municipality and Environment approvals.

Once licensed, the vendors will only be allowed to conduct one type of business. They must also keep away from schools, hospitals and mosques.

They should also keep a distance of at least 50m from a shop doing the same business.

The application form can be found here and emailed to [email protected]

Boeing

Qatar Airways 737 Max

Hammered by overcapacity in the region, currency fluctuations and other issues, two major Gulf airlines this week have reported job losses amid budget cuts.

But bucking the trend, Qatar Airways has seen growth this year, and said it has “no news to share” on its financial situation.

Both Etihad and Emirates recently announced plans to cut costs by making thousands of employees redundant.

Chantelle D'mello

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A spokesperson for Qatar Airways told Doha News that it will be adding new routes next year.

She also said that the airline recently put in a large aircraft order with Boeing, signaling the carrier’s continued expansion.

Qatar Airways is the only one of the Gulf big three that grew in size in the first six months of this year, according to the CAPA Centre for Aviation.

Job losses

Over the summer, CAPA also reported that Etihad’s growth had begun to slow significantly.

The Abu Dhabi-based company told Bloomberg this week that to counter financial pressures, it was undertaking “organizational reviews and restructuring.”

This will help the airline reduce costs and improve productivity and revenue, but also result in “a measured reduction of headcount.”

Clément Alloing/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

According to Bloomberg, Etihad will cut up to 3,000 positions across several departments, including human resources, commercial sales, cabin crew and ground staff.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Emirates has also offered redundancies to staff working in accounting, finance, IT and other departments in its head office.

Emirates reported a 75 percent decline in half-year profits on Nov. 9.

Financial pressures

Though Qatar Airways is currently sitting pretty, this year has been a tricky one for all Gulf carriers.

Economic turmoil, passenger concerns about terrorist attacks and currency fluctuations have all piled on the pressure.

This has particularly been the case for routes to Europe, with a glut of empty seats leading to lower fares on Emirates and Etihad flights, according to The National.

Mark Harkin / Flickr

Emirates A380

Both airlines held large National Day sales this year that offered significant discounts. They are now continuing to sell fares at very competitive prices, the newspaper said.

However, a similar sale by Qatar Airways did not take place this year due to the cancelation of Qatar’s National Day celebrations.

That said, Qatar is set to launch its first-ever shopping festival on Jan. 7. Qatar Airways is a partner on the month-long event and will offer airfare discounts for it.

Thoughts?