The Trump travel ban will not stop travellers from the Middle East flying to the US, according to the boss of Qatar Airways.
“Whatever President Trump says, people will still want to travel,” said the airline’s chief executive Akbar Al Baker.
The US travel ban targets people from Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
But Al Baker said there were many in the region with connections to the US who would continue to visit the country.
“And how will the tourists go? They won’t go by swimming across the Atlantic. They have to fly.”
However, he said he did not believe that Trump wanted “to close the doors on the United States”.
“So I am still positive that the traffic flow in and out of America will continue,” Al Baker was reported as saying by the BBC on the first day of the Farnborough Airshow.
Qatar Airways says it will post a loss this year due to the year-long economic blockade of Qatar by four neighbouring countries.
Amid allegations that Qatar was supporting terrorism and that it was too closely linked to Iran, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt imposed the blockade last June.
The carrier lost many of its local routes and has had to carve out new links – and avoid Yemeni airspace which is effectively controlled by Saudi Araba.
Al Baker warned that he did not think the blockade would end soon: “I don’t think it is going to get better. On the contrary, they are trying to make things difficult.”
He said: “They are trying to intimidate suppliers, banks and manufacturers not to do business with my country.”
Al Baker said the carrier was working hard to adjust to the blockade but that trading conditions remained challenging.
“Any new routes that we have launched to replace those we have lost take time to mature.
“Keep in mind we are going on with our expansion, so that might also put pressure on our bottom line.”
As for the current backlog of orders at major aircraft manufacturers, Al Baker said not enough was being done to address the problem.
As a result many airlines face long waits before taking delivery of new aircraft, he said.
“They have the capacity to deliver but it is their supply chain that is holding them back.”
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