Qatar Airways reported a $69 million loss for the 12 months to March, blaming the boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE for the losses.

Akbar al-Baker, Qatar Airways chief executive, said: “This turbulent year has inevitably had an impact on our financial results, which reflect the negative effect the illegal blockade has had on our airline.”

However, he insisted: “The impact has been minimised and has not been as negative as our neighbouring countries may have hoped.”

The boycott, imposed since June 2017, has closed airspace over Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain to Qatar Airways, forcing the airline to operate longer routes from its hub at Doha.

The carrier has also had to abandon 18 routes around the region due to the blockade.

The government of Saudi Arabia, which is leading the boycott, accuses the Qatar regime of supporting extremist groups in the region

Doha denies the accusations, but Saudi Arabia and the supporting states have demanded Qatar cut diplomatic ties to Iran, shut down the state-funded Al-Jazeera TV news network and sever ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

US president Trump has expressed support for Saudi Arabia and the boycott despite the US maintaining a major military base in Qatar.

Publication of the results followed an agreement between the US and Qatar governments in February.

This saw the US administration agree not to pursue allegations by leading US airlines that Qatar Airways received state subsidies, on condition the Qatar carrier publish its accounts.

The agreement required Qatar Airways produce “public annual reports with financial statements audited externally in accordance with internationally-recognised accounting standards, to the extent they are not doing so”.

In the results, published on Wednesday, al-Baker declared the carrier’s “commitment to growth in its toughest year in two decades”.

He reported a 7% rise in revenue year on year and near 10% increase in capacity and noted the carrier had launched 24 new destinations since the start of the blockade, including to Cardiff in the UK and Kiev in the Ukraine.

The airline took delivery of the first Airbus A350-1000 in February and added another 20 aircraft to its fleet over the course of the financial year, increasing its fleet to 213.

Qatar Airways Group also took a near 10% stake in Cathay Pacific and acquired 49% of Air Italy parent AQA Holding. Air Italy relaunched in February, having previously operated as Meridiana.

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