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Qatar Airways CEO comments 'unconvincing' says AEA

Gulf carriers accused of 'pre-emptive strikes' against European rivals
AEA general sectary, Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus
AEA general sectary, Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus

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The Association of European Airlines (AEA) general sectary, Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, has slammed Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways for launching “pre-emptive strikes” against European carriers.

The executive was responding to a recent open-letter from Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, which in turn addressed comments made by Schulte-Strathaus at the International Aviation Club in Washington – where he raised concerns about the rise of Gulf carriers.

“The European airlines were pioneers in a large number of areas. We in the Gulf airlines community have learnt a lot from them,” responded Al Baker. “They should accept competition and that the customer being in the driver’s seat.” {Click here to read the full open letter}

However, Schulte-Strathaus had described Al Baker’s comments as “unconvincing” and stated that European carriers are not afraid of competition.

“Our sector was liberalised in 1993, so we have close to 20 years’ experience of operating as commercial enterprises rather than national institutions,” he told Aviation Business magazine in Dubai.

“The fact that [my speech] has provoked a strong response from Mr Al Baker does not surprise me. The other two of the Gulf ‘Big 3’ – Emirates and Etihad – have for some months now been launching ‘pre-emptive strikes’ against the European carriers, protesting in the loudest of terms their unblemished competitive character. Now the Qatar CEO has joined in the chorus of indignation and I find his arguments unconvincing, just as I have found the arguments of the UAE carriers unconvincing,” he added.

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