Qatar Airways received at least $491 million in government subsidies in fiscal year 2017, a violation of the Open Skies agreement with the United States, according to a new analysis conducted by forensic accountants for the Partnership for Open & Fair Skies.
In its annual financial report, Qatar claimed it generated profits of $540 million during the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2017. However, a closer review of its financial statements reveals that the airline suffered substantial operating losses, the Partnership said in a press release. The government-owned airline suffered a $703 million operating loss in fiscal 2017 on top of a $358 million operating loss the previous year, according to the Partnership, of which Delta is a member along with American and United airlines.
The report makes clear that Qatar has negative operating margins that would not sustain a viable operation absent government support, the Partnership said.
In its coverage of Qatar Airways’ financials, the aviation website Airline Weekly notes "these figures are misleading" and explains "the larger point here is that Qatar Airways itself – the airline, in other words – almost assuredly did not make money last year."