Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has rubbished claims made by European airlines that Gulf carriers are unfairly grabbing aviation market share thanks to generous government handouts.
Al Baker said in an interview that the ‘whinging tactics’ adopted by European flag carriers came out of fear of healthy competition.
While speaking at the Guild of Travel Management Companies’ (GTMC) conference in Doha, he rejected the notion put forward by Lufthansa chairman Christoph Franz that European airlines were ‘handicapped’ by government policies in a way Gulf carriers were not.
Al Baker said the legacy carriers should “belt up and learn to face the real challenges of business today, and don’t shy away from competition”.
“It’s been a David versus Goliath story. Once we were small fry, but we are becoming the Goliaths. We have capitalised on our strengths and unique global positioning. We have shifted the goalposts and now we are setting the agenda,” he added.
Al Baker last month said the EU is “covering up” its inefficiencies in how it manages its finances under the pretext of the new Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
Speaking at the Global Aerospace Summit, Al Baker labelled the scheme an indirect tax and reiterated his previous statement that the move would hurt Middle East airlines more than European carriers, as the former were bringing more aircraft into their fleets.
Last week, Emirates Airline presented a study before the German government which contradicts Lufthansa’s claims that the Dubai flag carrier would hurt its business if landing rights at Berlin and Stuttgart airports are granted to the world’s fastest growing airline.