Qatar Airways says there will be no new planes in 2021 as coronavirus decreases demand

Qatar Airways says there will be no new planes in 2021 as coronavirus decreases demand
2 min read
Qatar Airways has decided it will not make any new aircrafts in for the next two years.
Dwindling demand means Qatar Airways isn't making new planes [Getty]

Qatar Airways has said it will not take any new aircraft in 2020 or 2021, deferring orders with Boeing and Airbus as demand diminishes amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Gulf airline, which flew to more than 170 destinations with 234 aircraft as of March, has been hit by airport closures and travel bans imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The International Air Transport Association warned in April that air traffic in the Middle East and North Africa would plummet by more than half this year.

"Quite a lot of (deliveries) will be deferred," Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker told Britain's Sky News on Wednesday.

"We have already notified both Boeing and Airbus that we will not be taking any aeroplanes this year or next year.

"And all the other aircraft that we have on order, that were supposed to be delivered to us within the next two or three years, will now be pushed back to as long as nearly eight to 10 years."

If traffic increased to levels above expectation, the delayed aircraft could be brought forward, he said.

The airline says it is currently serving around 40 key destinations.

It has previously warned staff that they face redundancies and salary reductions as it attempts to defy the headwinds of the global aviation downturn.

Qatar Airways was already battling financial turbulence, having posted a $639 million loss for the year to March 2019.

Qatar and repatriation

Egyptian workers stranded in Qatar in the coronavirus lockdown have flown home, a community group said on Monday, in the first of 18 repatriation flights that have overcome restrictions under a regional boycott.

The flight with 174 passengers on board left late on Sunday via neutral Oman to comply with Cairo's ban on direct air traffic from Qatar, Egyptian media reported.

It marks rare coordination between Doha and Cairo, which is part of a Saudi-led alliance of four Arab countries enforcing an embargo on Qatar.

Riyadh, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, cut diplomatic ties with Doha in June 2017, shut their airspace to Qatari aircraft and severed trade and maritime links with the Gulf country.

They accuse Qatar of supporting radical Islamists and being too close to Iran, charges denied by Doha.

"The first Egyptian evacuation flights took off from Qatar... the rest will come in succession," the Egyptian Association in Doha wrote on its Facebook page alongside an image of passengers on the first leg to Oman.

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