Qatar Airways continued to grow at a rapid pace last year, expanding by 25 percent, the national carrier’s chief has said.
However, he didn’t explain how the growth was measured. Qatar Airways’ annual passenger traffic growth has fluctuated between 6 percent and 40 percent over the last decade, according to the carrier’s figures.
While Al Baker chalked up the airline’s latest growth to its efficiency and providing “a product that caters to (passengers’) travel requirements,” 2015 was also the first full year of operations at Hamad International Airport.
Additionally, the carrier introduced new flights to Amsterdam, expanded its service to Italy and Spain and increased its frequency and routes to several cities in South Africa, among other destinations.
The expansion also came amid global growth in air travel as passengers flew more often due to lower fares, the International Air Transport Association reported last fall.
In the Middle East, the industry organization said that while low oil prices caused a slump in demand for air travel from the energy sector, solid business conditions in other corporate sectors “should help sustain solid expansion in air passenger demand for local carriers.”
Also at the air show, Al Baker ruled out any mergers between the Gulf airlines during a panel discussion.
“I don’t agree with consolidation, always done to extract capacity and jack up prices,” Al Baker said, according to Reuters.
Like Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad have both expanded rapidly in recent years and operate large hub airports that compete for transiting passengers.
That’s led to considerable congestion in the region’s skies, although industry observers say that could be eased if civilian planes were permitted to use some of airspace currently reserved for the military.
Recent airline mergers in the US have helped boost airline profits in that country. In the Gulf, the big three carriers say they are all profitable, but have not released full financial reports.
Etihad and Emirates said they recorded profits of $73 million and $1.2 billion, respectively, in their most recent financial year, the Wall Street Journal reported in June.
Al Baker told the newspaper that Qatar Airways netted a profit of $103 million.
He did not break down how much money the airline made from ticket sales compared to the profits from Qatar Duty Free or the Qatar Distribution Company (QDC), which has a monopoly on selling alcohol for home consumption in the Gulf state.