Qatar Airways sees its acquisition of a stake in IAG as part of a long-term strategic investment plan but not one that will require the airline to take a board seat as long as the current management structure remains in place.
"We are there for a very long term. Qatar Airways is not a hedge fund or short-term investor," says the Doha-based airline group's chief executive Akbar Al Baker.
Qatar recently upped its stake in the British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus parent from around 10% to just over 15% but, speaking at the IATA AGM, Al Baker said there were no current plans to go further in the financial relationship.
"We have absolute confidence in the management of IAG and absolute trust in the board, and therefore we are satisfied with our current position. At the same time, we are also satisfied with the 15.01% [stake] we already have," he says.
Al Baker adds that he's not seeking a board position, noting: "As long as we have a robust management in place, which IAG has, you really don't need to be on the board."
The tie-up between the European and Middle Eastern groups can generate "unlimited" benefits, argues Al Baker, with joint purchases, insurance, component repair, handling and catering among the areas to be explored.
From a network perspective, Qatar can help IAG in areas where it is currently weak, he adds. "IAG is not very strong in the subcontinent and India, and we are very strong. And Doha's Hamad International airport is a perfect hub to feed this traffic."
Meanwhile, Qatar Airways is closing on acquisition of a stake in Italian airline Meridiana and possibly one in Royal Air Maroc. When asked if the Qatari group was considering additional airline investment moves, Al Baker said: "Maybe."
Source: Cirium Dashboard