By Victoria Scott
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.
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.