Dubai: Qatar Airways released financial data covering the past ten years on Friday in response to accusations by the United States’ three largest airlines — American, United and Delta — that it is unfairly state-subsidised.
The response, a document titled Qatar Airways Open Skies Submissions, stated that the airlines net income last year was $73,197,000 (Dh269 million), an increase of 60 per cent on the $45,494,000 net income in 2013.
The document is the first time the state-owned airline has released its financial data, however, Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Bakar has stated in the past the Doha-based carrier is profitable.
Will Horton, senior analyst at CAPA — Centre for Aviation, told Gulf News by email Qatar Airways’ critics will be quick to dismiss the numbers.
“Given how coy they [Qatar Airways] have been about profit, it is surprising to see a financial history, albeit limited and unaudited,” he said.
Earlier this year, Al Baker told the Wall Street Journal the airline made $103 million profit in 2014. Friday’s document did not state profit numbers.
The document reports the airline made $8.4 billion in revenue in 2014, a 10.2 per cent increase compared to the $7.6 billion for 2013.
The release of financial data is part of a wider response to the US airlines allegations, which also have been directed at Emirates and Etihad Airways, that Qatar Airways benefits from unfair state subsidies including loans from its sole-shareholder, the State of Qatar.
Qatar Airways stated loans received by its shareholder should not be viewed as a subsidy because they were converted to equity and account “for the increase in value of the company.” This is in response to allegations Qatar Airways received $16 billion in state-subsidies since 2009, including $8.4 billion in loans and $6.8 billion in loan guarantees from its shareholder, the State of Qatar, as well other incentives and favourable airport tax schemes.
Qatar Airways also argued guarantees by the State of Qatar should not be viewed as a subsidy because the airline has never defaulted on a loan or had a lender exercise its guarantee. The airline also dismissed allegations low airport costs at its hub Hamad International in Doha were a subsidy, stating that other airlines also benefit from the same cost structure.
Qatar Airways had a share capital of $6.8 million, excluding shareholder advances, when it was formed in 1994. This increased to $39.5 million by 2009, the document states.
The US’ big three airlines have called on their government to free Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways from expanding further into the US market and enter into government-to-government consultations over the allegations.
The US carriers argue the alleged subsidies allow Gulf airlines to unfairly steal market share.
Horton said this has yet to be proven.
“Qatar and others have shown the overall market has grown. While marketshare for the US carriers may have decreased, airlines do not own passengers, he said.