AP News

Qatar Airways dismisses talk of deal with BA

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The head of Qatar Airways dismissed suggestions Monday that the fast-growing Gulf carrier is pursuing an alliance with British Airways' parent company.

CEO Akbar al-Baker told reporters in Doha that talk of a deal is nothing more than "press rumors." He said there are no negotiations ongoing with any carrier about a partnership.

"If we are talking, we will say it very openly," he said.

BA's longtime ally Qantas this month said it plans to end its alliance with the British carrier after Qantas signed a 10-year partnership deal with Gulf carrier Emirates.

The Financial Times earlier this month reported that BA parent International Airlines Group had held talks with carriers including Qatar about an alliance focused on Asia, where Qantas has a substantial presence.

The Qatar Airways chief executive also raised concerns about Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, saying the carrier has problems with technical issues regarding the plane and the "quality of the cabin." He did not elaborate.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment.

Qatar Airways is an important customer for Boeing, with 30 of the fuel-efficient 787 jets on order. A 787 decked out in Qatar Airways livery appeared at this summer's Farnborough International Airshow in Britain, but the airline has not taken delivery of any of the planes yet.

Boeing delivered the first 787 to Japan's All Nippon Airways late last year, three years behind schedule.

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