American stake still a goal for Qatar Airways, says Al-Baker

Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar al-Baker said the national carrier is determined to purchase a stake in American Airlines Group as planned, undeterred by its alliance partner’s decision to scrap a marketing deal amid an escalating feud.Qatar Airways refiled its stock purchase to clarify queries from US regulators and will forge ahead with its proposal, al-Baker told reporters in Doha yesterday. The US carrier ended the codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways, in a decision communicated through private notification on June 29.Once we get the OK from the regulator, we will buy the stock that we said we are going to buy, al-Baker said.Qatar Airways’ planned purchase of a maximum 10% stake, disclosed last month, has come as a surprise to the Fort Worth, Texas-based company, which has accused the three major Gulf carriers of having enjoyed state subsidies to compete unfairly.The proposed investment, which could potentially make Qatar Airways one of its largest shareholders, won’t change American’s board, governance, management or strategic direction, American Airlines said in a statement on Wednesday.Qatar Airways and American are partners in the Oneworld global alliance and each counts British Airways as its closest global partner. Qatar Airways owns a 20% stake in BA parent IAG SA.The purchase of a major stake in American would mark a fourth foray into overseas ownership for Qatar Airways following its IAG deal; the acquisition of a 10% holding in Latam Airlines Group, the biggest South American carrier; and a planned 49% stake in minor Italian operator Meridiana.The Doha-based airline is disappointed with American’s decision to abandon the codeshare accord, al-Baker said.It isn’t in the right spirit of the Oneworld alliance, he said. But if it is any way for them to make us reduce or stop our operations to the US, we are not going to do so because we are complying with the open-skies policy.American said it would also end a marketing agreement with Etihad Airways, adding the terminations won’t have a significant financial impact. Etihad said it was disappointed with American’s exit from the code-sharing and rejected allegations it violated any air-transportation agreements.Qatar Airways can sustain the blockade imposed by its some of neighbours as long as it lasts though it has taken a toll on profits as additional operating costs pile up, al-Baker said.The carrier is also pressing ahead with plans for a new airline in India. The Gulf carrier is working with its legal team for a filing in the country, al-Baker said, without elaborating.

Source: Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar