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Qatar Airways Says Government Financial Aid Will Be Needed By It: Reuters

Qatar Airways Says Government Financial Aid Will Be Needed By It: Reuters
One of the largest airlines of the Middle East - Qatar Airways, will soon run out of cash even to operate flights, said the company’s  Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker on Sunday to te news agency Reuters, and added that the company will have to approach for help eventually.
Governments of a number of countries have decided to come to the aid of airlines of their countries as the aviation sector has been the hardest hit because of the coronavirus pandemic as thousands of flights have been cancelled as governments imposed travel ban to curb the spread of the pandemic.
The United States has announced a $58 billion package for supporting its airline and aviation industry.
Qatar Airways is among the very few global airlines that are still operating flights and it is expected that the airline will be operating about 1,800 flights over the next two weeks.
"We have received many requests from governments all over the world, embassies in certain countries, requesting Qatar Airways not to stop flying," Baker said by phone from Doha.
Currently commercial flights to Europe, Asia and Australia are being operated by the state-owned carrier while also being involved in rescuing Saudi nationals from other countries h=who have been stranded because of travel bank imposed by governments there because of the virus pandemic.
"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. he however also warned that cash was being burnt away by the airline and there was only enough cash with it to be able to run flights for a "very short period".
"We will surely go to our government eventually," Baker added.
He however did not say anything about when the company will approach the Saudi government for help. According to analysts, government help could be given to the company in the form of  loans or equity. The company however said that measures to conserve cash were also being taken implemented by it.
There have been voluntary paid and unpaid leave taken by employees while Baker has decided not to accept any salary till such time that the airline is able to return to full operations. Baker said that some of he employees have even offered themselves to take a pay cut even though the airline has not forced any.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Qatar Airways had said that it will post a loss for the current year because of a geopolitical dispute that has forced it to take longer routes to get to local Middle East destinations and other places and has had to use more expensive routes to avoid airspace as some of the neighboring countries of Saudi Arabia had banned the use of their airspace for Saudi airlines as well.
Baker also said that the company had not benefited by the decision of rival airlines Emirates and Etihad Airways, of the United Arab Emirates, to ground commercial passenger lights flights.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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