Sunday 29 March 2020 12:25 pm

Qatar Airways says it will need state aid as cash begins to run out

Qatar Airways has become the latest airline to warn that it will need state aid in order to continue flying, the carrier’s chief executive has told Reuters.

The Gulf state’s flag carrier is one of few airlines to continue operating a relatively normal schedule of flights during the coronavirus crisis.

Read more: Government in talks over state takeover of Flybe

In recent weeks it has gone as far as to open new routes in order to assist the world’s governments with repatriating their citizens as more and more airlines ground their planes.

However, chief executive Akbar al-Baker has warned that the carrier only has enough cash to keep operations running for a “very short period of time”:

When that runs out, he said, “We will surely go to our government eventually for equity”.

In the next couple of weeks, the airline will operate a planned 1,800 or so flights, including new services to Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne, in stark contrast to many of its competitors in the region and worldwide.

Sign up to City A.M.’s Midday Update newsletter, delivered to your inbox every lunchtime

“We have receive many requests from governments all over the world, embassies in certain countries, requesting Qatar Airways not to stop flying,” Baker said:

“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 airport are open”.

In contrast to Qatar’s strategy, regional rival Emirates Airline has halted all of its flights.

Read more: Virgin Atlantic set to ask for government bailout

Airlines around the world have been in negotiations with their respective governments about rescue packages to keep them afloat for the duration of the pandemic.

Last week the US ratified a $58bn (£46.6bn) deal of loans and grants to protect the aviation sector, which has been especially hard hit by the loss of the highly lucrative transatlantic market.