According to the information published by LaVanguardia, Qatar Airways intends to fly between Barcelona and Latin America. During the Aviation Partnership Summit, Akbar Al Baker – CEO of the airline – confirmed that they would do that only in the case that Iberia and the other Oneworld airlines were in agreement. Qatar Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance since October 2013.
Even though Iberia is leading the Latin American market in Europe, if they had capacity constraints in certain destinations, Qatar Airways would see a business opportunity for them. Al Baker takes into consideration Barcelona only, since Madrid is Iberia’s hub and they distribute their flights to Latin America from there. Also, he said that it is usually difficult for an airline to operate from two different hubs. That’s why Qatar Airways might be a complement for Iberia from Barcelona.
The time period for this project to start will depend on the Qatar Airways business evolution as well as on their cooperation with Iberia and Oneworld. The Asian airline sees “strong potential” in Spain, which is recovering “very well” from the financial crisis and is a very important market for the carrier. For that reason, they will increase the Madrid-Doha weekly frequencies from 7 to 10, effective on November 16. And they are expecting to operate 2 daily flights, but only as from the next year due to lack of aircraft availability at the moment.
Furthermore, Qatar Airways expects to reinforce its presence in Spain thanks to the agreement signed with Vueling, which will make easier for their customers to connect with the Catalan airline’s wide domestic net in Spain, where they have load factors over 70%. Most of the passengers fly from Spain to Asia (mainly China) through their hub in Doha.
As for the Aena privatisation, Al Baker reminded that his country has experience as an airport manager thanks to the investment in Heathrow airport together with Ferrovial which, precisely, is involved in this process. In fact, he did not rule out the possibility that they could gain interest in Aena through their relationship with the Spanish company.
Al Baker has strongly criticised the European airlines. In his view, their complaints against the airlines in the Middle East “will never stop” because “they don’t like competition and they know we are more efficient and we offer higher service quality standards”. He believes that the European Union is afraid of the airlines in that region and does not realize the Middle East countries invest thousands of millions in aircrafts, being the main Airbus contributors. Besides, they bring millions of tourists to Europe from countries like China or India. If they stopped doing this, he warned that those traffics would be lost because they would not transfer them to European operators. “If Europe implements protectionist policies, many businesses would move from Europe to the USA”.
Al Baker suggested to broaden the “narrow vision” of the European Union because it is inconsistent with the spirit in which it was established: doing business with other countries and enable all the economies can grow.
Photo: Qatar Airways is currently one of the Barcelona football team sponsors. The photo shown a Boeing B773 Qatar Airways In FC Barcelona At London Heathrow by David Osborn – Flickr