Abdul Wahab Teffaha:
Well, the hit was very hard, like everywhere else in the world. In fact, in the Arab world we have witnessed a steeper decline in both traffic and capacity than the other regions of the world. Our figures were minus 72% for the whole 2020, as opposed to 2019. And across the board, we were witnessing and facing restrictions which sprung up by regulations that were instantaneous, and we were struggling to see how we can manage that. So the situation is as dire as everywhere else, a little bit more dire in the region, especially that the spread of the airlines of the regions, especially the major ones, is so global, to the extent that especially in the advanced markets, we saw a huge decline and that affected tremendously our situation. In the first few months, three or four months of 2021, the situation is not actually much better.
We’re down 65% still as opposed to 2019. And we are expecting that if restrictions do not ease down, of course, the level of vaccination around the world, and the level of inoculation is not up to a certain degree that the world is going to feel safe for air travel, in spite of the fact that air travel itself is extremely safe, even in the case of COVID, I’m afraid that 2021 one to one will be a better year than 2020, but not by much.
Okay. It’s quite interesting to see how hard it’s been hit. Obviously, the business models of airlines in the region, particularly in the couple of areas, it’s impacting their operations, it takes two to tango. You need to have other markets open to be able to serve. So, Mr Antinori of Qatar airways, you know you’ve grown as an airline during this crisis, you became from here the biggest airline in the world, which your CEO was most vocal about talking about. What has changed as being a commercial manager of an airline? What patterns are we seeing that’s different, and what do you think will change considerably moving into the future and what will just be a short-term issue?
I think it’s extremely challenging. I think it will impact the way to manage airline in the future, even after the crisis. It has been about first of all, thinking about the customer for us. So continuing to fly because the mission of an airline is to be there for people, for the customer, for the trade. And we have been very proud at Qatar is that Al Baker took this decision, it was a difficult decision, to continue to fly. The operational resilience of Qatar Airways, that has been always an asset for the company and has been even reinforced during the last blockade. Probably contributed to that.
So customer first, and after that, because we were operating on the everyday, we were able to read the market maybe a bit faster than the users at being on cold engine. And we have been able to step by step rebound the network, but it’s a lot about agility and changing the plan every day. And I see what is very new with chart is you have permanently to sync with the integration of the cargo, because you do not take a decision now to operate a flight or to resume a flight just because there is passenger demand. Is because in the combination of passenger and cargo revenue you can cover your direct operating costs. So I see the main thing during the last year and the next year will be to generate more cash than your operating costs and to accept to lose money, but just to sweeten the deal of the fixed cost. And ahead to be more agile, more integrated and more sustainable, and to have the right fleet, to have a good mix between cargo and revenue without polluting the world.
Sounds very interesting, how cargo for a long time was frowned upon a little as the industry has become such a vital part over the last year. And will do moving forward. Moving onto Mr. Waleed Al Alawi at Gulf fair. What are you seeing that’s different along this recovery path for the airline? How are passenger bookings changing? Which markets are you serving as the demand shift is happening and what are you seeing in traveler sentiment to fly into Bahrain?
To answer your question, today we operate today for instance 250 passenger flight, Qatar Airways today. It’s exactly 50% less than in 2019 the same day. And we operate 120 cargo flights today, and it’s 90% more than the same day in 2019. So your see the dynamics.
Mr. Alawi, can you hear me now?
Waleed Al Alawi:
I can try. I don’t know if you can hear me.
Yes, yes, I can. Did you hear the question I asked, or would you like me to repeat it?