(Bloomberg) -- Qatar Airways forecast robust travel demand for the rest of the year and said it would look to add more routes, depending on how fast it gets new Airbus SE and Boeing Co. jets.
The Doha-based carrier has seen leisure and business demand surge after travel restrictions were eased — in line with global industry trends — but continues to be hamstrung by a lack of new planes, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said.
“We have a delay from Boeing with the 787 and 777X,” he told reporters at an event in Dubai on Monday. “All this is in the pipeline and we’re expecting a large number of 787s to be delivered to us this year. We could add 85-90 destinations depending on the aircraft deliveries.”
The carrier is a launch customer for both passenger and freighter versions of the new 777 family, the largest aircraft in Boeing’s product line-up and an heir to the hump-backed 747 jumbo, whose production is slated to end in a few months.
Qatar Airways, which currently flies to more than 160 destinations worldwide, also hopes to start getting deliveries from Airbus soon, Al Baker said.
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The International Air Transport Association said in early December that the airline industry would achieve its first post-pandemic profit this year, bolstered mainly by a travel rebound in the US. And China’s reopening to international travel could propel global air traffic back to pre-pandemic levels as soon as June, one of the world’s leading aircraft-leasing firms said in January.
Al Baker said there had been no impact on travel demand from high oil prices and expects another “good year” when the airline reports results. He sounded an optimistic note, despite increasing competition regionally — especially from Saudi Arabia, which is keen to grab a larger share of the market.
Read More: Boeing Wins $37 Billion Saudi Arabia Deal for New Airline
The kingdom plans to buy 78 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, as Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman revitalizes the country’s flag carrier and oversees the rise of a new international airline - Riyadh Air - that seeks to rival Emirates and Qatar Airways.
With a load factor in the high 80s, there’s enough room for more airlines, Al Baker said, adding that Qatar Airways is open to all cooperation with Riyadh Air, including a codeshare.
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