Bloomberg News

Qatar Air CEO Says Joint Venture With BA Could Follow Code-Share

February 25, 2014

Qatar Airways Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said he’s open to a closer cooperation with British Airways that could extend to revenue sharing once initial partnerships within the Oneworld alliance are in place.

A basic code-share pact allowing the carriers to add their flight numbers to each other’s services is imminent after Qatar Airways joined BA-led Oneworld last year, and the No. 2 Gulf carrier favors strengthening partnerships further, the CEO said.

Revenue- and cost-sharing deals are the closest form of cooperation open to carriers from jurisdictions where takeover rules prevent full mergers, usually requiring approval from antitrust regulators. While Qatar is the only one of the top three Gulf carriers to join a global alliance, Air France-KLM (AF) Group said last week it’s looking at deepening collaboration with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways PJSC to a revenue pact.

“We would consider revenue sharing within Oneworld, but not outside,” Al Baker said at the Abu Dhabi Air Expo 2014 business aircraft show. “It’s not only revenue sharing, it’s revenue sharing and loss sharing. When you’re in a joint venture you have to stick together in the good times and the bad. It’s not a one-way street.”

Qatar Airways said today in a separate statement that it will commence code-sharing with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. on March 30 for tickets going on sale from Feb. 25.

‘Strong Alliance’

The Asian partnership is the first to be announced by Qatar since it joined Oneworld on Oct. 30, according to Paul Charles, an external spokesman for the Doha-based carrier.

Code-shares with other members of the 13-strong global grouping are likely to be rolled out in coming months, and Al Baker said today an accord with British Airways “will happen very soon,” adding that he’s seeking “a very strong alliance between us and BA and other Oneworld alliance people.”

The executive said that while he’d be “delighted” to explore a partnership with Dubai-based Emirates, it’s unlikely that regulators would permit such a tieup and that an alliance of two of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing carriers would “frighten” the rest of the industry.

Qatar Airways will receive its first Airbus Group NV (AIR) A380 in June but doesn’t plan to deploy it in India, where the government recently lifted a ban on the superjumbo serving its airports, preferring frequency over volume, Al Baker said.

Airport Move

The carrier will “move overnight” to Qatar’s new Hamad International Airport when it opens in the second quarter, the CEO said, with a gap of six to eight hours in scheduled movements to facilitate the move from Doha International. Other airlines will shift in two groups, with low-cost carriers and others operators without transit passengers going first.

Al Baker said he’s “very keen” to have a U.S. border point at the new hub like one recently set up in Abu Dhabi and planned for Dubai, allowing passengers to complete formalities before flying, though the process is “laborious.”

Qatar Executive, the Gulf airline’s private jet unit, has issued a request for proposals for 10 aircraft to replace its existing Challenger 605 and Global 5000 planes made by Canada’s Bombardier Inc., Al Baker said today at the Abu Dhabi expo.

Aircraft under consideration include the Bombardier Global 6000 long-range jet, the G650 from General Dynamics Corp.’s Gulfstream unit and models from Embraer SA (ERJ:US) of Brazil.

To contact the reporter on this story: Deena Kamel Yousef in Dubai at dhussein1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net


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