Qatar Airways may go public in 2011, says Al Baker

CEO of flag carrier says listing ‘could be this year’, is mulling launch of low-cost airline
Qatar Airways $695.62.
By Reuters
Tue 14 Jun 2011 12:53 PM

Qatar Airways, the Gulf Arab state's flagship carrier, is
considering an initial public offering (IPO) in 2011, its chief executive said
on Tuesday.

"It could be this year. The more market share we gain,
the timeline moves forward," Akbar Al Baker told reporters, adding that
the airline had appointed advisors but declined to name them.

"It will definitely be earlier than people
expect."

In December, the company indicated it was planning an IPO in
early 2012 after three consecutive years of profit. The airline, half-owned by
sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, is close to finalising a 35
percent stake in Europe's largest all-freight airline Cargolux.

Al Baker said the airline is in its third consecutive year
of profitability.

"We made [net profit] of $205m for the 2009/2010 fiscal
year and over $230m in 2010/2011. For the current fiscal year, my revenue is
more than $6.5bn. This is why we are preparing the IPO," he said.

The airline is also preparing to launch a low-cost carrier, Al
Baker said. "We will open a [low-cost carrier] as soon as we feel that our
market share is being taken away. But we have the name registered, we have the
business plan ready and we have the aircraft configuration ready. We will
launch very fast once I press the button."

Regional low-cost carriers include Al Jazeera, Air Arabia,
Bahrain Air and flydubai.

Al Baker responded to reports that the airline was considering
taking a stake in Portugal's troubled state airline TAP: "No, this is not
true. It's a rumour."

In April, Qatar Airways signed a $1.3bn contract with US
planemaker Boeing to buy five Boeing 777 planes to add to its existing 97-plane
fleet. The airline already operates 25 777s.

Along with Gulf rivals Etihad and Emirates Airway, Qatar
Airways is one of the largest buyers of new aircraft, with orders for 80 Airbus
A350s, 60 Boeing 787s and five Airbus SAS A380s.

Qatar Airway said in March it would hire 11,500 new staff
over the next three years to keep pace with an expansion plan that will see it
serve 120 destinations by 2013.

The airline intends to grow its fleet to more than 120
aircraft during the same period.

Qatar, the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural
gas, is building a new airport with the capacity to accommodate 50 million
passengers per year.

It will host the 2022 football World Cup tournament.

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