11-Feb-2011 12:18 PM

European carriers should 'accept competition' from Middle East

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker stated comments made by Association of European Airlines Secretary General Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus about the rise of the Gulf carriers as “factually incorrect and unfounded” (Arabian Aerospace/Reuters/Arab News/Bloomberg, 10-Feb-2011). He added that European carriers should “accept competition” and not seek to block their access to the region. Mr Schulte-Strathaus suggested Gulf airlines were run as part of a national strategy and a “vertically integrated economic chain” in contrast to the way in which other carriers around the globe were operated.

Association of European Airlines: “(Schulte-Strathaus’) comments weren’t made off the cuff. They were made out of a deep-seated concern that the seismic shifts in the industry are being driven by forces other than market ones. European airlines’ competitiveness has been severely damaged in the wake of the recession. The more we look, the more we are concerned that (Gulf carriers) are developing a business model apart from the one that we are used to, and we are asking questions about it,” David Henderson, Information Manager. Source: Reuters, 10-Feb-2011.

Qatar Airways: “I would like to pose a question to Mr Schulte-Strathaus: Can he tell me of any country of the world which does not consider its air transport industry, be that an individual airline or a multitude of them, as part of national interests? Was it not the case that the US government provided its airlines with cash outlays and tax breaks, as well as war insurance subsidies after September 11 in order to ensure the continuity of the US air transport industry? Is it not the case even further that the position of the US has consistently been to preserve the national identity and ownership of the US airlines? And on the other side of the Atlantic, doesn’t Mr Schulte-Strathaus consider the billions of euros that are allowed under the EU laws to pump into airlines for 'restructuring purposes' as a manifestation of the strategic national interest in supporting national airlines and what they represent economically and socially? Doesn’t Mr Schulte-Strathaus consider the control over the overwhelming majority of slots in a highly congested region as a lopsided support to national airlines against new entrants including airlines who are coming from airports where European airlines can operate freely without any reciprocity in terms of slots quality?" Akbar al-Baker, CEO. Source: Arabian Aerospace, 10-Feb-2011.

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