Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker argues that his own Middle Eastern carrier and Emirates will be “the only two major carriers in the region”, despite Etihad’s rapid expansion via an equity partnership strategy.
“When you talk about major carriers, you don’t put in the basket all the other airlines that is being collected by anybody,” says Al Baker.
As part of its strategic of acquiring minority stakes in other airlines, Etihad has now picked up holdings in Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Darwin Airline - now rebranded Etihad Regional - Jet Airways and Virgin Australia. It is also currently in talks over a possible investment in Alitalia.
“I am still saying that there will be a third carrier or fourth carrier or fifth carrier but there will be two dominant carriers,” says Al Baker. “And Emirates and Qatar Airways will be the dominant carriers.”