British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia reportedly entered negotiations with the European Commission regarding concessions over landing slots at London Heathrow International Airport to ensure approval of their anti-trust immunity application for a trans-Atlantic pricing, coordination and revenue sharing agreement (Wall Street Journal, 20-Jan-2010).
oneworld partners reportedly in talks over London Heathrow slots
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Qatar Airways turning 20 - and hoping for a joint venture with American Airlines
Qatar Airways turns 20 in 2017. The once tiny regional airline has become a global powerhouse and is reshaping oneworld, the alliance to which it belongs. Qatar has stakes in IAG and LATAM, and Qatar Airways CEO H.E. Akbar Al Baker has told CAPA that in the near future he expects Qatar to make acquisitions in two additional airlines, aside from Meridiana. He said the additional airlines would be successful airlines, as "We are not going to collect crap".
Strategic partnerships without equity are important; Mr Al Baker hopes American Airlines will cease its partnership with Etihad Airways and work solely with Qatar Airways, even forging a multilateral JV anchored around American, British Airways/IAG and Qatar. Qatar is heading towards a fleet of 250 aircraft in 2-2.5 years' time. Mr Al Baker expects recently ordered 787-9s to replace 787-8s, while an LoI for 737 MAX 8s will be to replace Qatar's A320s and grow that fleet.
Qatar Airways buys 10% of oneworld's LATAM, to add to its 15% in IAG
Enter Qatar Airways. As Etihad Airways looks to bed down its investments in other airlines, Qatar is gradually expanding its airline investment portfolio. Qatar's 15% stake in IAG is now being followed with a 10% stake in LATAM for USD613 million – nearly 1.5 times Qatar's net profit of USD446 million, disclosed (for the first time) on the day prior to the LATAM equity announcement. It is a safe investment; LATAM group has a strong market position and its share price has remained strong even in the face of a brutal downturn in Latin American economies.
Qatar gives LATAM needed cash and a distant shareholder. Latin America is the smallest market by far for Gulf airlines, but while currently in the economic doldrums, has a longer term potential for growth. It is also a key future market for US airlines, albeit very small on the Gulf airlines' networks. Qatar is spending nearly EUR2.5 billion on equity investments, still smaller than Etihad's but illustrating a willingness to acquire airline assets, for investment and strategic reasons. In this case the immediate strategic purpose for Qatar is less apparent.
Star Alliance's privately owned Avianca is also considering a strategic shareholder; that would mean five of Latin America's eight largest airline groups could have an airline investor from outside the region.