Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, speaking during a keynote address to the Aviation Club in London, noted (18-Oct-2012) the growing importance of Gulf carriers and the dynamism they were bringing to the aviation industry with service excellence and a focused strategy. He said recent industry developments showed the world of aviation had woken up to the advent of Gulf carriers – Qatar Airways becoming a member of the oneworld alliance, Emirates’ tie-up with Qantas, and Etihad’s partnership with Air France KLM. “We have been considered pariahs in the global marketplace. The notion that Gulf carriers are the black sheep of the airline industry is far from reality. The Gulf carriers are here to stay, successfully building strong hubs in Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” said Mr Al Baker. He explained that the Gulf region had long faced the "wrath of critics" opposing the dramatic expansion of its airlines. “It is in Europe that the fiercest of critics have voiced their opinions. I have personally faced criticism from legacy carriers in Europe, falsely accusing Gulf carriers of using government money to subsidise growth," he said. He added, “The region is no longer a follower, but a pacesetter that other airlines were watching closely with envy,” he said. He argued that in Europe, unions had taken over airlines forcing the industry to drastically change their business style to stay alive. As a result, airlines have had no choice but to cut capacity, scale back expansion, shed jobs and reduce service levels, he said, noting that this is "quite the opposite of the Gulf business model". [more - original PR]
Qatar Airways: “Critics have argued that Gulf petro dollars were being pumped into this region helping fuel our expansion. Having long realised the industry's potential to drive economic growth, our governments as shareholders have a right to inject equity. If we are questioned for government support then we should definitely be questioning the decades of support in the form of state-aid that legacy European carriers have been enjoying. Airlines have to be mindful of the volatile market situation. I had predicted that the global economy would hit rock bottom with another recession on the horizon. Events such as the Arab spring and economic woes in central and southern Europe have not made things easier for our industry. Being an optimist, I always keep looking for solutions to problems – whatever they may be. Qatar Airways has made best use of opportunities in challenging times and has managed to carve a niche for itself in the global aviation industry. We will continue with the same aggressive expansion," Akbar Al Baker, CEO. Source: Company statement, 18-Oct-2012.