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The announcement that Qatar Airways (QA) has acquired a 9.99% stake in the publicly listed IAG was something of a surprise. True, IAG's British Airways was instrumental in bringing QA into the oneworld alliance. The two groups codeshare on a number of routes and QA operates freighter capacity for IAG Cargo. They frequently make comments about each other in public that demonstrate a consderably more balanced relationship than between other big European legacy airline groups and competitors from the Gulf.
There is much more that could be done to build a wider and deeper relationship between the two. The two groups' networks complement each other in Asia Pacific and the Americas and more codesharing would make sense for both. Some form of joint venture agreement is even on the cards.
Nevertheless, on the face of it, deepening the relationship does not require an equity stake on either side. Perhaps it is QA's way of demonstrating that it is serious about a commercial partnership that is both close and long term. For IAG, if the relationship works, then it could give a further advantage over Air-France-KLM and Lufthansa.
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