Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker says that a deal to save Spanair earlier this year was scuppered by the European Union's requirement that subsidies would have to be paid back.

The Spanish airline ceased operations in January when Qatar Airways ended rescue talks at the eleventh hour.

Al Baker told delegates at the Arab Air Carriers Organisation annual meeting in Algiers how close the airline came to concluding a deal, saying: "Qatar Airways was finally there to acquire 49% and just two days before we would sign we got a directive from the competition authorities that if we took this shareholding then Spanair's state subsidy would have to be returned.

"So we pulled the plug and the next day the airline collapsed with 2,500 job losses, for the sake of state subsidy, which is absolute rubbish. The EU is an entity that is supposed to be creating jobs and looking after its member nations," he added.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news