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Baker: Qatar Airways may request government bailout if boycott continues

Head of Qatar’s state-backed airline has admitted it could be forced to seek a government bailout if a blockade by the country’s regional neighbors continues.

Akbar al-Baker, who has led Qatar Airways since 1997, said that a potential bailout was “still some time away” but that it would probably need to seek government cash if the sanctions persisted over the long term, the Telegraph reported.

“At the moment I don’t need it, but if this blockade continues, then I’m sure that the government will be prepared to inject capital because Qatar Airways is a very important economic tool,” Baker said.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and links with Qatar in June on charges of financing terrorism.

Many of Qatar’s imports were shipped across the UAE, and fresh food was arriving across the Saudi border.

Following the boycott, Qatar’s imports dropped by about 40 percent, compared with a year ago in the first weeks of the boycott.

Doha is now resorting to new sources of products from geographically remote countries such as Turkey and new shipping routes through countries such as Oman, increasing shipping costs and rising prices.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said Sunday that he doesn’t see any solution to the diplomatic conflict with Qatar.

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