Qatar Airways, Emirates only dominant carriers in the Middle East – Al Baker

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Akbar Al Baker - CEO Qatar Airways. Photo -

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker claimed in a controversial statement that only “two dominant carriers” have a future in the Middle East.

The Qatari executive made his prediction at this week’s Arabian Travel Market event in Dubai.

“I still confirm that there will be two dominant carriers in the Middle East: Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways,” he said

Al Baker, discounting Etihad’s growing stature in international airline industry, claimed that the Abu Dhabi flag carrier’s profitability was not a measure of its success in the regional market.

Abu Dhabi-based airline posted a 28% increase in Q1 revenues in April to the tune of $989m thanks to record growth in passenger numbers.

“Profitability has no relation to dominance,” said al-Baker. “We are profitable, Emirates has always been profitable, so if Etihad is profitable for the first time, I am very happy for them, but when it comes to dominance, there will only be two airlines.”

When asked about ailing Bahraini carrier Gulf Air’s position in the air travel market, he said that political interference is reducing their clout but refused to rule them out.

“I don’t think they are doomed. [They] will sustain [and] they will be in business. They are good for us because they will give us competition to certain routes. Gulf Air are not finished, far from that. I am sure that they will be around.

Al-Baker also confirmed reports that Qatar Airways is deferring its delivery of A380 superjumbos until Airbus gives more details about wing cracks on their aircraft.

The entire Airbus A380 super jumbo fleet was inspected by European air safety regulators in February after safety engineers found cracks on wings of almost all the planes.

“Qatar Airways will have to defer scheduled deliveries of its A380s from October 2013 until we have a clear position on the issue surrounding wing cracks which are under process of modification by Airbus,” chief executive Akbar al Baker said at a Dubai travel show.

Qatar is awaiting an order of five A380 aircraft and was due to receive the first of these next year. Al Baker expressed his hope in January that Airbus would fix the cracks on its flagship aircraft but warned he would delay taking the delivery if problems persisted.

New Airport

Qatar Airways CEO said on Tuesday an additional $2bn will be spend on the new international airport at Doha as part of the airline’s aggressive expansion.

“The ultimate phase of the airport is estimated to cost another US$2bn over the US$15.5bn,” Akbar al Baker, member of the steering committee for the airport’s development and chief executive of Qatar Airways, told reporters at a travel fair in Dubai.

He admitted that the original cost of the airport was $14.5bn which had risen to $15.5bn to cover an increase in passenger numbers. The new airport is scheduled to open in December.

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