How Qatar Airways May Protect American Airlines Profits Across the Atlantic

Qatar Airways is the largest owner of IAG, parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Vueling. When british Airways was confronted with strikes Qatar lent Airbus narrowbodies with their much better product, to the surprise and delight of BA customers used to a lesser product.

Qatar says they may come to BA’s rescue again as work is done on the Heathrow-based carriers Boeing 787s due to issues with the Rolls Royce engines on the aircraft type.

Qatar Airways is considering loaning planes including wide-body models to British Airways in a move that would soak up excess capacity at the Gulf carrier while easing fleet pressures at the U.K. operator as some of its own Boeing Co. 787 jets get emergency overhauls.

Qatar Air is evaluating the situation and could trim frequencies on some routes to free up aircraft for BA, whose parent IAG SA is 20 percent owned by the Mideast group, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in an interview.

The dispute between the big US airlines and Qatar is over with Qatar giving up nothing of substance. They agreed to share more information about their finances — not change anything about their business – and stated they don’t currently plan to operate non-stop flights between Europe and the U.S. (which they don’t, since they’re going to do that through through Air Italy).

In the process though many nasty things were said, and American severed codesharing ties with its oneworld partner. In fact American was duped by Delta to go along with the Mideast food fight — American lost its close partnerships with Etihad and Qatar, lost its partnerships with Gulf Air and Jet Airways, and has very little reach now into India and Pakistan. Meanwhile Delta retains its partnership with Saudia and has built close relations with Jet Airways providing Delta and Air France KLM feed from India.

There must be a bit of spite on Qatar’s part investing in JetSuite to grow to 100 regional jets and base the airline at Dallas Fort-Worth.

So it’s ironic that Qatar could provide widebodies to fill in for British Airways 787s. Americna and British Airways (and Iberia and Finnair) share revenue on transatlantic flights. BA flies 787s between London and Baltimore, Nashville, Newark, Philadelphia, San Jose and Los Angeles. Offering fill-in capacity means backstopping American’s ability to make money on transatlantic routes.

Meanwhile the world’s largest airline needs to find a way to access traffic from India and Pakistan after foreclosing their existing avenues for spite.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Why are you assuming that the 787’s will fly to the US? The JV does not cover ALL BA routes – at least for rev share.

  2. Yeah, but you just don’t know what product you’ll ultimately get, so highly doubtful someone would book away from BA based on the 787 issues (joe sixpack simply doesn’t know – 97% of the flying public).

    Data point, flew PSA-LHR on BA operated by QR last summer and so nice compared to some BA 321. Maybe Albaker can make a business of that???

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