Qatar Airways and Emirates 'only dominant carriers'
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker has claimed that there will be "two dominant carriers" in the Middle East, his own and Dubai's Emirates Airline.
Al-Baker's prediction, made at this week's Arabian Travel Market event in Dubai, excluded long-haul carrier Etihad.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad in April posted a 28 percent increase in Q1 revenues to US$989m on the back of increased passengers. The company is also profitable.
“I still confirm that there will be two dominant carriers in the Middle East: Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways,” he said.
Al-Baker claimed that Etihad's profitability was not a measure of its success in the regional market.
“Profitability has no relation to dominance,” said al-Baker. “We are profitable, Emirates has always been profitable, so if Etihad is profitable for the first time, I am very happy for them, but when it comes to dominance, there will only be two airlines.”
Al-Baker also dismissed Bahrain carrier Gulf Air's position in the air travel market, saying that they are "shrinking" and suffering as a result of "political interference".
“I don’t think they are doomed. [They] will sustain [and] they will be in business. They are good for us because they will give us competition to certain routes. Gulf Air are not finished, far from that. I am sure that they will be around.
During the event, Al-Baker also confirmed that Qatar Airways will defer delivery of its A380 superjumbos until it gets more details about wing cracks on the Airbus aircraft.
European air safety regulators ordered checks in February for Airbus A380 wing cracks for the entire superjumbo fleet after safety engineers found cracks in almost all the planes inspected.
"Qatar Airways will have to defer scheduled deliveries of its A380s from October 2013 until we have a clear position on the issue surrounding wing cracks which are under process of modification by Airbus," chief executive Akbar al Baker said at a Dubai travel show.
Qatar has an order for five A380 aircraft pending and was due to receive the first of these next year. In January, Al Baker said he was confident Airbus would fix the cracks on its flagship aircraft but did not rule out delaying delivery if the problem persisted.
* Additional reporting by Reuters