Thursday, 14 December, 2017

Qatar Airways ditches plan to buy American Airlines stake

LATAM Boeing 787 operating under its former name's livery LATAM Boeing 787 operating under its former name's livery
Debra Rodriguez | 03 August, 2017, 00:34

The Texas-based United States airline said the Qatari decision left American's immediate plans unchanged. The U.S. carrier had vigorously opposed the investment.

A review of the planned move "demonstrated that the investment no longer meets our objectives", the company said today in a statement, without elaborating.

American Airlines last week reported a 15.5% drop in second-quarter profit on higher fuel and labor costs.

Qatar's proposal came against a backdrop of increasing tensions between American, other USA airlines and their counterparts in the Middle East.

The carrier, however, said they would continue looking for ways to expand their US investment portfolio.

The Qatari carrier said it would "continue to investigate alternative investment opportunities in the United States of America and elsewhere that do meet our objectives".

However, in another twist late on Wednesday (2 August), Qatar Airways said it was reversing its decision to build a stake in the USA carrier.

The move surprised the market as well as executives at the U.S. airline and came despite American Airlines' chief executive Doug Parker's vocal opposition to alleged "illegal subsidies" that certain Middle Eastern carriers receive from their governments.

The Riyadh-led quartet cut ties with Qatar and put it under an economic blockade on June 5, under the pretext that Doha supported "terrorism" and destabilized the Middle East.

It wasn't clear what public disclosure Qatar was referencing.

Qatar's investment in American could have served to help block increased coordination between American and Qatar's Gulf competitors, managing director at aviation consultancy firm Aerotask, Rob Watts told CNNMoney in June.

Qatar has been working to build itself up with other recent acquisitions in LATAM Airlines Group, Italy's Meridiana and as the largest shareholder in International Airlines Group (IAG), which owns Iberia and British Airways. "With this new codeshare, more than half of LATAM's domestic destinations in Brazil are accessible to customers flying on Qatar Airways".

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