STOP BLAMING US FOR YOUR OWN PROBLEMS DOES QATAR AIRWAYS TELL THE US BIG 3 CARRIERS
(Posted 12th April 2019)
Following recent – and repeated – false accusations relating to Qatar Airways’ shareholding in Air Italy, such baseless statements and consistent inaccuracies need addressing as a matter of urgency.
Qatar Airways holds a 49 per cent stake in Air Italy’s parent company, AQA. This minority investment is at the same level that Delta holds in both Virgin Atlantic and Aeromexico, and that Etihad held in Alitalia.
Qatar Airways’ investment in Air Italy, and operations to the United States, are fully compliant with the U.S.-Qatar Open Skies Agreement, the January 2018 U.S.-Qatar Understandings, and a side letter that accompanied the discussions.
Unfounded claims that Qatar Airways’ investment in Air Italy violates the Understandings are entirely false.
As a factual matter, the investment preceded the January 2018 U.S.-Qatar Understandings.
· The investment was announced in a July 2016 press release and was approved in writing by the European Commission (DG Competition) in March 2017.
· The transaction was closed in September 2017.
· The discussions surrounding the Understandings took place in December 2017 and January 2018.
Qatar Airways’ investment in Air Italy was a matter of public knowledge (as were Qatar Airways’ investments in other airlines) at the time of the U.S.-Qatar discussions; airline investments were not raised as a point of concern during those talks. The Understandings do not mention or prohibit cross-border investments of any type.
Furthermore, Qatar Airways does not codeshare on any of Air Italy’s flights to the United States, and has no plans to do so. Qatar Airways is not operating any Fifth Freedom scheduled air services to the U.S.
The “Big 3” U.S. carriers have consistently demonstrated their hostility to new entrants into the U.S.-Europe market, and their attacks on Air Italy based on the identity of its minority shareholder are just another manifestation of this hostility. Air Italy, the carrier the “Big 3” cite as a major “threat” to their survival, has a fleet of just 15 aircraft and only serves one U.S. city – New York – with a daily service while other routes, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco are operated at a lower frequency.
Notably among the three US airline giants is American Airlines, a supposed partner of Qatar Airways in the ‘oneworld’ global alliance but their continued hostility may end in Qatar Airways withdrawing from the alliance, which would deal a devastating blow to ‘oneworld’.
Qatar Airways, despite illegal airspace closures around the State of Qatar, continues to serve a growing number of destinations. The airline flies a B787 Dreamliner daily from Doha to Entebbe and then back to Doha via Kigali, while serving Nairobi three times a day. Mombasa, Kenya’s port city, welcomes four flights a week while in Tanzania Qatar Airways flies to Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.