Qatar Airways snubbed Etihad targets, claims CEO
The second-biggest Gulf airline is “actively discussing opportunities” with other passenger carriers, Al Baker said in an interview with Bloomberg.
“I would not like to pre-empt our decision,” he was quoted as saying. “We would rather keep it to ourself for the time being, of where we want to invest. When we see that there are strong synergies between the two carriers we are open to investment.”
However, Al Baker said Qatar Airways was “offered” unprofitable Greek carrier Olympic Airlines, Air Seychelles and “even Air Serbia,” while Alitalia, which has suffered years of losses, has indicated its availability “several times over the past five years,” Al Baker told Bloomberg, adding that none of the deals came through.
Rome-based Alitalia is in the final stages of investment talks with UAE national carrier Etihad Airways, which has also taken a 50 percent stake in Air Serbia and a minority shareholding in Air Seychelles.
“We were offered umpteen airlines that today have either been acquired or are in the process,” Al Baker said. Qatar Airways “will not be rushed into taking investments in airlines in bits and pieces,” he said, adding of Etihad’s purchases that: “Each airline in our region has a different strategy.”
He added: “We want to make sure that we don’t create a burden on us,” he said. “We want airlines that we acquire to be complementary to us, we don’t want to get involved in fixing other people’s problems.”
In another apparent reference to Etihad, Al Baker said Qatar Airways had never considered taking stakes in Indian carriers such as budget operator SpiceJet. Etihad took a 24 percent stake in India’s Jet Airways last year.
Al Baker also told Bloomberg that he had abandoned plans to set up a freight hub via investment in an existing operator after exiting a 35 percent stake in Cargolux Airlines International following a strategy dispute with Europe’s No 1 cargo-only carrier.
Meanwhile he said the airline was also interested in operating the A319 Business class-only service to London City Airport in addition plans for the service to Heathrow, but was unable to do so because the aircraft “is a bit heavy” to take off from the urban location’s short runway with the required fuel load.
By Beatrice Thomas
- Thursday, 27 March 2014 1:20 PM