Belfast Telegraph

Qatar Airways boss claims US carriers want rid of Gulf firms

By John Mulligan

US airlines want to push Gulf carriers out of America so they can "swindle" their own passengers with higher fares, the controversial CEO of Qatar Airways said in Dublin yesterday.

He said that claims by airlines such as Delta that Qatar Airways and other Gulf carriers are trying to dominate global aviation by using unfair subsidies is "frankly a load of b*******".

Akbar al-Baker also said that if Qatar Airways - which also owns 20% of Aer Lingus owner IAG - cannot secure required approval from the American Airlines board to buy more than 4.75% of the US carrier, then he will be content to hold just under the 5% stake.

Mr Al-Baker said American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker told him that the board of the US carrier will not approve Qatar Airways' plan to secure a 10% stake.

The Qatar Airways boss said the company would start buying American Airlines shares on the open market "soon", once it receives regulatory approval in the United States to do so.

He claimed US aviation unions are opposed to Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad because they are "misled". And he insisted that trying to buy shares in American Airlines would not create problems for Qatar Airways.

"It will be the other way around," he said. "Because the unions will keep on getting frightened and will be anxious that Qatar Airways is buying. We are buying as an investor.

"They should be happy, the unions, that we have confidence in their employees."

He added: "We don't want to influence them, we don't want to tell them how they have to work, we don't want to tell them how they have to run their airline, we don't want to tell them what product they have to put (in), we don't want to influence them, so what is the problem?"

Belfast Telegraph

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