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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s national carrier plans to spend more than $800 million to purchase up to a 10 percent stake in American Airlines.

In a statement yesterday, Qatar Airways said it sees the US carrier as “a strong investment opportunity” and “a good oneworld Alliance partner.”

But American Airline’s CEO said the proposed investment was unsolicited and “confusing to our team and we don’t like that,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Fadi Benne

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That said, AP reports that an expanded partnership between the two carriers could benefit American passengers, making it easier for example for them to travel to smaller cities in India.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has been hard hit by its Gulf neighbors’ recent boycott. And some analysts say the American purchase could help Qatar make further inroads with the US.

Subsidy row

American and Qatar Airways have had a contentious relationship of late.

For the past few years, US carriers have been lobbying to limit the growth of Gulf airlines into the American market, accusing them of unfair competition because of alleged government subsidies.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar Airways, which is government-owned, has denied the accusation. So have Emirates and Etihad.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told the WSJ that the company’s stance on the issue would not change, even with Qatar Airways’ purchase.

Expansion plans

The Gulf carrier said it will initially buy some 4.75 percent of American on the open market, the maximum allowed without board approval.

US law allows foreign entities to own just below 25 percent of an American carrier.

Christian Junker/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a filing to American, Qatar Airways said it wishes to buy up to a 10 percent stake.

The rapidly expanding airline already owns 20 percent of British Airways parent company IAG. And it is working to acquire a stake in Italy’s Meridiana.

It has also recently announced plans to set up a carrier in India.


Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways CEO and his staff celebrate the win

Qatar Airways has regained the top spot in the Skytrax World’s Best Airline rankings, after slipping to second place last year.

The coveted award comes at a difficult time for the airline, which is having to deal with the fallout of a blockade enforced by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt.

In a statement, Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said:

“At these difficult times of illegal bans on flights out of my country by big bullies, this is an award not to me, not to my airline, but to my country.”

As well as winning best airline this year, Qatar Airways also took several other Skytrax awards. These included Best Airline in the Middle East, World’s Best Business Class and the World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.

However, it didn’t retain two of the other titles it won last year – Best Business Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline Staff in the Middle East.

World’s top 10

While Qatar Airways regained the top spot, last year’s winner, Emirates, fell to fourth place this year.

Qatar Airways / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar Airways’ other main regional rival Etihad is in eighth place this year, down from sixth in 2016.

Here’s how the top ten looks:

  1. Qatar Airways
  2. Singapore Airlines
  3. ANA All Nippon Airways
  4. Emirates
  5. Cathay Pacific
  6. EVA Air
  7. Lufthansa
  8. Etihad Airways
  9. Hainan Airlines
  10. Garuda Indonesia

Customer votes

To decide this year’s winner, Skytrax analyzed 19.87 million survey entries from the website

Surveys were filled out by people of 105 nationalities in English, Spanish and Chinese, and submitted from August 2016 until May 2017.

Richard Lee/Flickr

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Travelers were polled on 49 performance indicators, including customer satisfaction with check-in, boarding, seat comfort, cabin cleanliness, food, beverages and staff services.

In 2014, Etihad asked to withdraw from the Skytrax rankings over concerns about its methodology.

However, the organization insists on its website that it works on a not-for-profit basis and that it applies “rigorous” monitoring during its survey process.

“The integrity and reputation of the Skytrax Passenger’s Choice Awards relies on the ability to maintain transparency across all areas of the survey and awards format,” it said.

QSuite launch

Despite Qatar Airways’ recent woes as a result of restricted airspace and a boycott of many regional routes, it is still forging ahead with its ambitious plans for growth.

Qatar Airways

The new “QSuite” in Business Class

These include the launch of a major revamp of its Business Class product, the so-called “QSuite.”

The first of the airline’s aircraft to be fitted with the seats, a Boeing 777, is currently on show at Le Bourget in Paris.

It will take to the skies with passengers on the Doha to London Heathrow route on June 24.


Qatar Airways/Flickr

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker

“People will not forget” about the crisis that has embroiled the GCC over the past few weeks, even when it’s over, the head of Qatar Airways has said.

Speaking at the Paris Air Show yesterday, Akbar Al Baker hit out at his Gulf neighbors, telling AP that the ongoing dispute “will leave a lasting wound.”

Two weeks ago, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar.

A Qatar Airways Airbus A350


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s neighbors also shuttered Qatar Airways offices and airlines in their countries, and carriers from there have stopped flying to Doha.

The crisis has made travel in and around the GCC more difficult, as well as complicated the lives of thousands of people who live and work in the region.

However, in a separate interview with Reuters yesterday, Al Baker said recent events will not stop Qatar Airways from pursuing its growth strategy.

“We are not going to defer any of our aircraft … We are continuing our aircraft deliveries at the same pace as we are contractually obligated to do,” he said.

He also called on US President Donald Trump to intervene to help lift what he called an illegal blockade.

New commercial

The CEO’s comments come shortly after Qatar Airways unveiled a new commercial extolling travel “beyond borders and prejudice.”

The short advertisement features scenes of travelers in various landscapes, greeting friends and family, with a voiceover asserting that “travel teaches compassion” and is a “right for all.”

It makes no direct mention of the Gulf dispute, but alludes to it by saying:

“It is a right for all of us to go where we need to go, to feel the things we want to feel, to see the people we want to see. That’s why we’ll continue to fly the skies, providing you with everything we can and treating everyone how they deserve to be treated.”

It concludes, “It’s a strange thing for us to be apart. Qatar Airways: Going places together.”