Cathay Pacific Airways is anchored by consistency and conservatism, so the assertive Qatar Airways taking a 10% stake in Cathay for USD662 million has the allure of bringing stormy seas and pivoting the mighty Cathay to a new direction. Yet the far likelier outcome is Cathay maintaining the status quo.
Qatar Airways is looking to park cash. For the price of a few widebody aircraft (that get depreciated), Qatar could instead try to achieve a higher return on an aviation investment, and possibly gain some strategic benefits. But caution is to be exercised: a previous Cathay-Qatar joint venture failed, one of the few JVs in aviation history to be disbanded. Partnering two overlapping hubs is difficult. Cathay is pursuing its own partnership options for Europe, the main market it overlaps with Qatar's network.
Swire and Air China now retain a combined 75% interest in Cathay. They have a shared future together, one with far more to come, but Qatar Airways has a tidy investment, strategic or not in the short term.
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