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Stop 'crying wolf', Al Baker tells European rivals

Euro carriers 'not standing up to challenge' says Qatar Airways CEO.
NEWS, Aviation

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European airlines need to face up to the challenge of competition rather than “crying wolf” and criticising Gulf carriers, the CEO of Qatar Airways has said.

The Qatar Airways boss has hit back at claims that Gulf airlines do not compete on an even playing field, instead arguing European airlines are afraid of competition.

“There is a level playing field; we operate as a business the same way they operate as a business. I know they [European airlines] are always crying wolf that Gulf carriers are subsidised by the state, they are supported by the state. Subsidised no, but supported yes,” Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, told Arabian Business TV.

“Lufthansa, Air France, Iberia - all these airlines, they were all once upon a time government owned and it is only in the recent past that they have been privatised, the same way we are also going to privatised…..We are going to go for an IPO, so what is the problem?

“I think the main problem is that they are not standing up to the challenge; they are not making themselves efficient [and] they are not making sure that their product is in line with the demand of the traveling passenger.”

Al Baker was responding to an open letter published last month in which Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, the secretary general of the Association of European Airlines (AEA), accused Gulf carriers on competing on an unlevel playing field.

Schulte-Strathaus’s letter was in response to an open letter from Al Baker in the wake of comments made by the boss of the AEA during a speech at the International Aviation Club in January.

“I think they should stand up to the challenge of competition. In my opinion they should realise that the Arab carriers are not going to go away, quite the contrary, we are only going to get stronger,” said Al Baker.

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