By Andy Sambidge
CEO Akbar Al Baker says stock market flotation is unlikely for at least five years
Any stock market flotation of Qatar Airways has been pushed back by several years due to wider economic turmoil, the chief executive of the Gulf state's flag carrier has said.
"I do not think it will be any closer than five to eight years," Akbar Al Baker told journalists at the ITB Berlin travel fair.
Qatar Airways indicated late in 2010 it was planning an initial public offering in early 2012 after three consecutive years of profit. Last June, Al Baker had said the carrier could seek a stock market listing by the end of 2011.
The IPO "will be postponed for a long time because we feel it will take a long time to recover from the economic situation that the world is in," he said on Thursday.
Al Baker said the IPO plan would have been to list 50 percent of the company's shares, but limit foreign ownership of stock to 20-25 percent.
He said profit would slump at the airline in the financial year to end-March, with revenue hurt to the tune of almost $490m from the Arab Spring uprisings and $515m from high fuel prices.
"But we will still have our nose above the water," he said, adding he expected revenue of $6bn, up from $5.1bn the previous year.
Al Baker said in June the airline made net profit of $205 million for 2009/10 and more than $230m in 2010/2011.
The airline industry has seen several insolvencies this year, such as Spanair in Spain and Malev in Hungary. Al Baker said more would follow.
"I think quite a few airlines will go belly-up in Europe and some other parts of the world," he said, adding Gulf carriers were unlikely to fall into that category.
After buying 35 percent of all-freight airline Cargolux last year, Al Baker said he would be keen to take more stakes in cargo companies, but was not looking at present because of a downturn in the freight market.