July 12, 2012
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker says he is not interested in picking up the 12% stake in International Airlines Group (IAG) that Spanish bank Bankia plans to sell. “We are too busy with our own expansion,” Al Baker says at the Farnborough air show. He remains “quite interested” in investing in an Indian carrier, but that project has been shelved pending relaxation of India’s ownership and control restrictions.
Qatar Airways has been rumored to be close to joining one of the three global alliances, a notion Al Baker plays down, at least for the moment. “We are large enough to stay outside the alliances . . . but we could look at [joining one] if we were approached.” Al Baker and IAG CEO Willie Walsh are known to be close allies, but “just because I have a good relationship with one CEO does not mean I will join an alliance.”
Qatar Airways now expects to take delivery of its first Airbus A380 by the beginning of 2014, three months later than foreseen in the most recent delivery plan. Qatar Airways has 10 A380s on firm order and holds options for another five aircraft.
Al Baker says he will decide whether to stay with the A350-1000 order once the design is frozen. Qatar Airways has placed an order for the initial -1000 version, which subsequently will be upgraded by Airbus. He says he is confident Airbus will address his concerns regarding the weight of the aircraft, its range and capacity. Al Baker also had worries regarding the commonality that the -1000 is supposed to have with the -900 and -800. “That is now no longer the case,” he says.
On the other hand, waiting for Boeing’s proposed 777X is not an option, either, as Boeing has told Al Baker that it will only become available in the 2019-2021 timeframe.
Boeing has been showing a Qatar Airways 787-8 at Farnborough. The aircraft also participates in the daily flight displays. The airline expects to receive five 787s this year and five next year, although Boeing has told Al Baker that deliveries in 2013 could be higher. Following some short-haul flying in the first few weeks after its September delivery, the airline’s first 787 will be used initially on the Doha-London route and later will be deployed to Japan and Vietnam.
In addition to the arrival of the 787, also is preparing for almost coincides with the opening of the new international airport in Doha. The new facility is expected to become operational in December, although Al Baker indicates that one of the companies responsible for building lounges “did not perform” and was fired. That event could cause a delay, although the extent of the problem is not yet clear.