INDIA & MIDDLE EAST: Qatar follows Etihad down acquisition path

Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker is in the market for another airline to provide greater market opportunities for the Doha-based carrier. Al Baker went on record at the German Travel Market show in Berlin to confirm his airline’s interest in broaden its ownership beyond the Gulf, according to reports. “It is very well possible […]


Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker is in the market for another airline to provide greater market opportunities for the Doha-based carrier. Al Baker went on record at the German Travel Market show in Berlin to confirm his airline’s interest in broaden its ownership beyond the Gulf, according to reports. “It is very well possible that we will buy shares in another airline,” he said. “Precondition is that it has a strong network and can help us to become a more global actor,” he told reporters. While Europe is seen as the likely target, Al Baker told a German newspaper that the airline is considering a 49 per cent stake in a European carrier equipped with a developed set of routes – some analysts believe that an Asian airline could also be a potential target. Meanwhile, Etihad is understood to still be interested in a bid to buy Richard Branson’s 51 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic, after the iconic UK billionaire indicated he is considering the sale of his majority stake and hired Deutsche Bank AG to review options. Singapore Airlines holds the remaining 49 per cent. Of particular interest to any buyer are Virgin’s 288 takeoff and landing slots at Heathrow which comprise three per cent of the total. Slots at Heathrow are so valuable that Continental Airlines paid US$209 million for four pairs three years ago.