By Claire Ferris-Lay
CEO Akbar Al Baker says deal to be signed in next few weeks, says would not buy another airline
Qatar Airways plans to acquire a 33 percent stake in European air cargo company Cargolux and expects to sign a deal with them in the next few weeks, the CEO of the flag carrier said Monday.
“Yes, we are [looking at a stake]; 33 percent, “Akbar Al Baker told reporters during a press event in Dubai. “We are to sign an agreement with them, in the next few weeks.
Cargolux, Europe’s largest all-cargo airline, is a strategic investment for the state-owned carrier, Al Baker said.
“We see there are synergies. Qatar Airways would like to expand and I always said we would only be interested if they [the company] are healthy and well-established.
“We would not invest in an airline,” he said. “No matter how attractive, if it will take my management time and resources to cure a sick individual, we don’t want to do that.”
Qatar Airways last month 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.
CEO Akbar Al Baker said in December the airline would launch an initial public offering (IPO) in early 2012 after three consecutive years of profit.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.