DOHA, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways, the Gulf state's rapidly growing flag carrier, made a small loss in the last financial year which ended in March because of high oil prices, its chief executive said on Monday.
"We had a very small loss because of the huge increase in oil price," Akbar al-Baker told reporters.
"Profit on an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) level was 47 percent above the previous year, but on a net level we made a small loss. For the 2010-2011 financial year, we made a substantial profit."
He did not elaborate. Qatar Airways, which is not listed on a stock market, does not regularly disclose its earnings.
The airline carried 14.3 million passengers last financial year, a number which is expected to increase to 17 million in the current year, Baker said.
He also said the opening of the first phase of Qatar's planned $11 billion new airport would be delayed until June next year after a contractor was dropped from the project. The airport was originally due to open this December.
Baker said that as a customer, he was in favour of a potential $45 billion merger between Europe's EADS and BAE Systems to form the world's biggest aerospace and defence company. The firms revealed last week that they were in talks on a merger.
"It will enhance their product, and it is good for an airline to have two major contributors to the Airbus aircraft getting together as one company. This would bring efficiency and reduce the cost of the product. Of course I'm in favour of it."