Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker criticised Boeing for a lack of clarity on its narrowbody programme (Seattle Times, 22-Jun-2011). "Boeing has done a very big mistake by not coming up with a strong statement of what they are going to do with the narrowbodies," he said. He added that if he were Boeing CEO, he would go for the all-new jet immediately. "These things need leadership, decision making that is very bold. They are pussy-footing about it," he said.
Qatar Airways criticises Boeing for lack of clarity on narrowbody programme
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Qatar Airways grows in Saudi Arabia as it catches up to flydubai and appears to end Al Maha ambition
Often overlooked in the story of Gulf aviation superconnectors is Saudi Arabia. A large and underserved domestic and international market in its own right, Saudi also possesses hub capability to challenge its better known rivals. 13 Saudi cities have international service but the flag carrier Saudia only serves five. Foreign airlines have moved in, taking advantage of Saudia's absence and the often favourable geography.
Qatar Airways intends to launch service to two new Saudi points in 2017, bringing its total number of services to 10 as it seeks to narrow the gap with the 13 destinations of the leader, flydubai.
In 2016 Qatar Airways overtook flydubai and Emirates in capacity size, making it the largest foreign airline in Saudi. Qatar's organic growth comes as it is increasingly likely that its proposed Saudi start-up, Al Maha Airways, will not launch. Saudia accounts for only 31% of Saudi's international market. This is likely to grow as Saudia continues its quiet revitalisation, aided by improved hubs at Jeddah and Riyadh. There is also a dual brand strategy with the LCC start-up flyadeal.
Gulf airlines in Australia/New Zealand: 2017 could surpass 2016's record growth
Qatar Airways' casual remark in Jan-2016 that it would launch nonstop service to Auckland has resulted in nearly two years of accelerated growth as competitors look to pre-empt Qatar. That, in turn, is driving Qatar to build its presence in Australia and New Zealand – which is disproportionately small compared to the presence of Emirates and Etihad. In Feb-2017 Qatar will finally launch nonstop service to Auckland, making that air service the world's longest flight. After the launch of flights to Australia's secondary city of Adelaide in May-2016, Qatar intends to open service to another smaller market – Canberra.
2016 was the most prominent year for Gulf airlines growing in Australia and New Zealand. Excluding Qatar's proposed Canberra service, and other services under consideration, 2017 will be the third largest year for growth, but depending on how commercial and aeropolitical matters evolve, 2017 could surpass 2016 for growth. So far, there will be more absolute growth from Qatar than Emirates in 2017, by comparison with 2016.
In Australia/NZ Gulf airlines have doubled their presence between 2012 and 2017. In Australia/New Zealand, by 2020, Gulf airlines could create the presence of two Singapore Airlines, an operation which established itself over many decades. Gulf growth has broader implications as their mostly European traffic flows challenge historical Australia-Europe hubs in Asia.