May 7, 2020 / 9:31 AM / a month ago

Qatar Airways in talks with banks for billions of dollars in loans - sources

FILE PHOTO: A Qatar Airways aircraft takes off at the aircraft builder's headquarters of Airbus in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar Airways is in talks with banks for loans worth billions of dollars, three sources familiar with the matter said, as the state-owned airline readies to begin rebuilding its network that has been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The talks with banks are happening on a bilateral basis, the sources said, with one of them adding the company could explore offering a guarantee from the ministry of finance for the fundraising.

Qatar Airways, which declined to comment on the talks, announced on Wednesday it would start re-opening routes that it had been forced to abandon during the outbreak that has virtually halted international travel.

That follows a March warning it was burning through cash as it remained one of few global airlines continuing to operate regular, scheduled - though limited - services.

Qatar Airways has, like other airlines, said it would have to eventually seek state aid and has since temporarily cut salaries and told staff to prepare for substantial job cuts.

The airline last month signed an $850 million financing provided by Standard Chartered for seven Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

Gulf rival Emirates, in the United Arab Emirates, has also been recently in discussions with lenders about financing, sources have said.

Reporting by Davide Barbuscia, additional reporting by Alexander Cornwell, editing by Mark Potter

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