OGBL union welcomes Qatar Airways exit from Cargolux

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Qatar Airways' decision to dispose of its 35% stake in Luxembourg freight carrier Cargolux has been welcomed by the OGBL trade union, which has been a vocal critic of the Gulf carrier's involvement.

In a statement, the OGBL says the move is a "step in the direction". It issued the communiqué after hearing confirmation in the local media from Claude Wiseler, the Luxembourg minister for sustainable development and infrastructure, that Qatar was withdrawing its interest.

However, Luxembourg must now find a suitable replacement for Qatar Airways. Earlier this month Wiseler met in Moscow with Russian transport minister Maxim Sokolov for talks on aviation links between the two countries. In addition, he held a meeting with senior management from freight carrier Volga-Dnepr, according to a statement on the Luxembourg government's website. Like Cargolux, the Russian group is a major operator of Boeing 747-400 and -8 Freighters through its subsidiary AirBridge Cargo.

Chinese involvement also cannot be ruled out. On 7 November, a delegation from China visited the principality to discuss deepening the bilateral aviation links between the nations. Their trip ended with a visit to the cargo facilities at Findel airport, says the Luxembourg government.

Meanwhile OGBL insists an ongoing strategic review of the loss-making airline being conducted by consultancy Oliver Wyman now "has no value". It believes that one of the report's key recommendations is the reduction of the freight carrier's fleet by seven aircraft. Flightglobal Ascend Online data lists Cargolux as operating a total of 16 aircraft - 11 747-400Fs and five 747-8Fs, with a further eight -8Fs on order.

In the future, it says, a minority shareholder should have its stake capped at 33% to stop it acquiring a "blocking" position.

Qatar Airways should also be prevented from profiting from the "damage" its involvement has caused to Cargolux, it says.