Qatar Airways annual losses double on pandemic, impairments

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A Qatar Airways plane takes off at Hamad International Airport, as the country resumes international flights to Saudi Arabia, in Doha, Qatar January 11, 2021. REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

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DUBAI, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways Group on Monday reported a doubling of annual losses to 14.9 billion riyal ($4.1 billion), hit by the COVID-19 collapse in long-haul travel and aircraft impairment charges.

The state-owned group, which includes the airline and other aviation assets, said it booked a one-off impairment of 8.4 billion riyal on its fleet 10 Airbus A380s and 16 A330s jets.

Its operating loss shrank 7% to 1.1 billion riyal.

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Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker has cautioned that the A380s, the world's biggest passenger jet, may never return to the airline's operational fleet due to the impact of the pandemic.

The financial result for the year to March 31 compares with a 7.3 billion riyal loss in the year prior, which was also hit by a airspace ban by Saudi Arabia and others that ended in January.

Total revenue and other operating income fell 42.5% to 29.4 billion riyal. Passenger revenue fell nearly 80% to 7.9 billion riyal.

The number of passengers carried dropped 82% to 5.8 million.

Qatar Airways also reconfirmed it had received $3 billion in state support since the onset of the pandemic, provided via equity injections from its sole shareholder, the State of Qatar.

It said it did not receive any subsidies in the form of salary support, tax relief or grants, while employees took a 15% temporary pay cut and the workforce shrank 27% to 36,707.

Dubai's Emirates lost $5.5 billion in the same period and has received $3.1 billion in equity injections from the state throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Qatar Airways and Emirates have no domestic markets to cushion against border restrictions and closures introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19.

After drastically cutting services last year, airlines have gradually increased services as countries increasingly ease travel restrictions with more of their population vaccinated.

Qatar Airways said it now flies to over 140 destinations, up from a low of 33 during the pandemic.

($1 = 3.6607 Qatar riyal)

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Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; editing by David Evans and Dan Grebler

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