Qatar Airways: American Airlines bid 'a strong investment'

Qatar Airways: American Airlines bid 'a strong investment'
The comments followed criticism from the chief executive of American Airlines over Qatar Airways’ interest in buying up to 10 percent of the US carrier's shares.
2 min read
23 June, 2017
Qatar Airways seeks to buy at least $808 million in shares [Getty]

Qatar Airways has responded to criticism levelled at it over a bid to buy shares in American Airlines by stating the US flag-carrier presented "a strong investment opportunity".

The Doha-based airline, which was this week named "World's Best Airline" despite the regional blockade against Qatar, said that its intended purchase of up to 10 percent of American's shares showed it wanted "to build a passive position in the company with no involvement in management, operations or governance".

Shares in American Airlines rose more than five percent in pre-market trade after it disclosed the potential investment. The stock closed up 1.1 percent.

But the chief executive of American Airlines said in a letter to employees on Thursday that he was not "particularly excited" about Qatar Airways' $808 million bid.

CEO Doug Parker promised to continue the US carriers' "full court press... to stand up to companies that are illegally subsidised by their governments", Reuters reported.

He reiterated that he found Qatar Airways' proposed investment "puzzling given our extremely public stance on the illegal subsidies that Qatar, Emirates and Etihad have all received over the years from their governments."

US carriers have alleged that their Gulf rivals receive billions of dollars in state subsidies which provide them an unfair advantage, allegations the Gulf airlines deny.

Qatar Airways, the Middle East's second largest airline, owns 20 percent of British Airways-owner International Airlines Group (ICAG.L) and 10 percent of South America's LATAM.

Together with United Continental Holdings Inc and Delta Air Lines, American has pressed the US government to curb US flights by Qatar Airways and rival carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways.

The move by Qatar Airways comes amid the Gulf region's worst diplomatic rift in years.

On 5 June, Saudi Arabia and allied states cut all ties with Qatar, closing its only land border, banning planes from their airspace and barring Qatari nationals from passing through their airports.

They accused Qatar of supporting and funding "terrorism" and working with regional rival Iran – charges Doha vehemently denies.