Qatar Airways may go on an acquisition spree, buying up stakes in other carriers around the world. Already Qatar owns:
- 21% of IAG, which owns British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling and soon Air Europa).
- 49% of Air Italy
- 9.99% of Cathay Pacific
- 5% of China Southern (doubling American’s stake)
- 10% of LATAM
CEO Akbar al Baker said they’re considering several new acquisitions, speaking at the Qatar Airways/CAPA Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit in Doha.
Under discussion is a potential 49% stake in Rwandair (the Qatari government owns 60% of the soon-to-open new Kigali airport). Qatar may be bidding against Ethiopian Airlines for this. A fresh infusion of capital from another airline would allow the African airline to grow its fleet with modern aicraft.
They also may increase their stake in LATAM to 20% to match Delta’s investment in the South American mega-carrier. Qatar hosted LATAM’s fall board meeting and announced new codeshares.
And they may go from mere codesharing with India’s IndiGo (where they partner between Doha and Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad) to a full fledged equity partnership.
Qatar Airways has had a joint venture with soon-to-become oneworld member Royal Air Maroc. The Casablanca-based airline was once expected to adopt Avios as its frequent flyer currency. Qatar could still take a stake in the Moroccan carrier.
American partners with Royal Air Maroc and is looking to build on that partnership, so is unlikely to object to the pre-existing Boston, New York, Washington Dulles and Miami flights they operate. And none of the other carriers that would see new Qatari investments currently fly to the United States so are likely to be uncontroversial here. However, though Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic they (along with United and American) had a problem with Qatar’s investment in Air Italy supporting flights across the Atlantic, until President Trump shut down those objections.
Qatar had looked at taking a stake in American Airlines but American pushed them off using bylaws intended to protect tax loss carry-forwards retained in bankruptcy (but which was a sham because there were no such concerns over a similar stake taken by Warren Buffet).