Qatar Airways ready to counter any "crap" from low-cost rivals
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has warned that he is ready to "push the button" with a low-cost offering to counter any "crap product" threats from local rivals.
He has reiterated the warning to rivals issued at last year's Farnborough air show, saying that Qatar Airways could be in the market with a low-cost operation within 90 days if necessary.
Emirates' low-cost unit FlyDubai became the latest budget operation in the Middle East region when it launched services last month.
Despite the growing threat, Al Baker says that the airline doesn't "want to get on to that band wagon" but adds that if its market is eroded by a regional low-cost carrier, "then Qatar Airways will join the fashion show".
The airline has an Airbus A321 configured with 220 seats for use as a back-up aircraft, which Al Baker says has been used to discreetly test its low-cost model.
"So we are set to go within 90 days," he says. "I would like the regional low-costs to be wary not to intrude into our market with all this crap product. Otherwise we will immediately match them with a superior product, but of course with a crap yield like them."