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Qatar Airways' Al Baker dismisses BA "rumours"

"If we are talking, we will say it very openly," says airline ceo.
NEWS, Aviation

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Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has dismissed press speculation it is in talks with British Airways' parent company International Airlines Group (IAG).

Al Baker told reporters at a press conference in Doha on Monday reports earlier this month of talks between the two carriers was merely "press rumours."

"If we are talking, we will say it very openly," he said.

According to a report by London's Financial Times, IAG was in discussions with three airlines, including Qatar's flag carrier, to fill the gap left by British Airways' now defunct deal with Qantas.

British Airways and Qantas confirmed earlier this month they were terminating their joint venture on routes between the UK and Australia in March, after the Australian carrier announced plans for a partnership with Emirates Airline.

Doha-based Qatar Airways reported it made a small loss in the last financial year which ended in March because of high oil prices.

"We had a very small loss because of the huge increase in oil price," Al Baker said.

"Profit on an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) level was 47 percent above the previous year, but on a net level we made a small loss. For the 2010-2011 financial year, we made a substantial profit."

The airline carried 14.3 million passengers last financial year, a number which is expected to increase to 17 million in the current year, Baker said.
 

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