EU objections to state aid received by Spanair were the “breaking point” in talks between and the European airline earlier this year about a possible equity investment, CEO Akbar Al Baker told Aviation Week last week.
During an interview at the ITB tourism fair in Berlin. Al Baker touched on a number of subjects, including the airline's plans to again consider an order foraircraft and the executive's less than positive opinion of the 's (IATA's) handling of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) controversy.
The investment talks with Spanair were “nearly finalized,” Al Baker said, but claims over earlier state support stopped the process. Spanair has since ceased operations and declared bankruptcy (DAILY, Jan. 31).
In spite of the breakdown in those negotiations, Al Baker said he will continue to seek other opportunities. Hinting at the recent activities of Abu Dhabi’s(which just invested in and Air Seychelles) Al Baker noted, “You don’t start taking airlines that are sick [where] you know you have to inject more every quarter."
“I’m a businessman, I never wanted to invest in Air Berlin,” said Al Baker.
The Qatar Airways chief welcomes talks between Etihad and- about possible cooperation. “We were seen as the disruptive [Persian] Gulf carriers, but now they want to work together with us, we are being recognized as strong partners,” Al Baker said. He believes an open skies regime between Europe and the Gulf region eventually will be implemented.
Qatar Airways will start looking again at a possible order for the Bombardier CSeries in about 12 months, Al Baker said. He is “still interested” and believes that the model can still be a “very potent airplane.” But the project has been shelved for now due to the lack of management resources at the airline.
Al Baker is “concerned about the lack of orders” for the CSeries, but says that was not the reason for the airline delaying consideration of an order.
The airline’s recent order for various versions of thefamily does not limit the CSeries potential at Qatar Airways, Al Baker said. In his opinion, the NEO is a “multi mission” aircraft, while the CSeries would only be used for two- to three- hour sectors from Doha and in smaller markets.
Al Baker criticized IATA for not having done enough to fight aviation’s inclusion in the EU ETS. “IATA played a very passive role in ETS unfortunately,” he said. “They did not do anything, they started telling us about the implications only two to three years ago.” Al Baker, now a member of the IATA board of governors, says strategies in cases like ETS must be improved. “We have to find new ways how to handle such issues.”
Although Qatar Airways is against ETS, “we will comply with the rules of other countries,” Al Baker said. “We will protest, but only within a legal framework.”