AP interview: CEO says Qatar Air will grow despite blockade

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Qatar Airways’ chief executive says the carrier will post an annual loss this year due to the land, sea and air blockade imposed on his country by other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

But Akbar al-Baker told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday that the ban on Qatar’s flagship airline flying to neighboring Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since last summer will not stop the expansion plans of the Middle East’s second largest airline.

Al-Baker said his state-owned airline may know the size of its loss by April. He gave no timeline for when expansion to new destinations should make up for markets lost.

Al-Baker was speaking in the Australian capital Canberra, where Qatar Airways has become the first international airline to offer daily flights.