Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said Monday that the blockade imposed on his country by neighboring Gulf countries will soon collapse but “the wound will never go away.”
The comments at the Paris Air Show came after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier this month over the country’s alleged terrorist links.
Al Baker said that Qatar Airways had taken a financial hit from the freeze-out but that it would not halt the company’s growth or plans to accept delivery of new aircraft.
“There have been monetary impacts,” he said. “We have had a lot of cancellations, especially to the four countries that did this illegal blockade. However, we have found new markets and this is our growth strategy, to always find new markets where competition is taking the market share away from us."
The airline chief also criticized the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations' aviation agency with which Qatar has been talking about the airspace rights' dispute.
“I as the CEO of an airline am very disappointed at the leadership of the ICAO, I don't think they have moved enough, I don't think they have taken this matter very seriously and I think they have… taken a back seat to this conflict,” Al Baker said.