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Airline industry faces myriad of challenges on recovery path: Al-Baker

Pratap John

Wednesday، 21 September 2022 10:15 PM

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive HE Akbar al-Baker said the aviation industry will continue to face challenges emanating from Covid-19, oil prices, shortage of manpower, political upheaval, lack of investments in infrastructure development and unnecessary restrictions on aviation on environment grounds.
He was participating in a panel session following the formal opening of the IATA World Financial Symposium (WFS) in Doha yesterday.
He urged the aviation industry to work towards an optimised management of its financial resources, including applying best practices in the areas of cost recovery and effective cash management.
The industry, he said, should have a clearly defined measuring, reporting and verification system in place to ensure it drives progress to deliver sustainability commitments.
“In order to achieve our ambitious climate targets, the carbon markets need to respond in accordance to the airline's commitments,” he said.
He said airline ticket prices will remain high due to lack of capacity as airline manufacturers face challenges delivering aircraft on time.
The tourism industry will be hardly hit if disposable income of people shrink due to inflation.
“Despite optimism and rebound in travel, post-pandemic, we are still in dangerous times due to conflicts around the world. Unfortunately, as soon as we start seeing a recovery, something else happens… and put pressure on our bottom line. As CEO of an airline, I am concerned about that.”
IATA director general Willie Walsh also participated in the panel session moderated by Hadley Gamble, CNBC anchor and senior international correspondent.
The 2022 World Financial Symposium (WFS) is focusing on reshaping airline resilience.
Following the greatest shock to aviation in history, the industry is emerging rapidly from the pandemic and government-mandated travel restrictions of the past two years. Industry losses are expected to reduce to $9.7bn this year from nearly $180bn in red ink in 2020-21.
As travel barriers fall in most regions, very strong demand is supporting expectations for a recovery to pre-Covid-19 traffic levels by 2024, with profitability a possibility in 2023.
At the same time airline debt levels have soared as carriers borrowed to stay aloft during the crisis. And finance departments across the industry will face challenges as the industry achieves its 2050 fly net zero commitment.
Walsh said, “Airlines are resilient. Now is the time to build on the hard work and difficult restructurings of the past two years to seize opportunities coming out of the crisis. Finance will play a vital role in supporting the ongoing recovery while creating a sustainable capital structure to support our ambitious environment agenda.”

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