Like him or loathe him, there is never a dull moment with Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker around.
Fresh from further cementing its ties with Boeing by ordering another clutch of US-built aircraft – just 20 737 Max 8s, with 40 options this time – the carrier announced plans to get even closer to American industry.
Or, more accurately, its air transport industry, with the Gulf powerhouse proposing to acquire a 10% stake in US rival American Airlines.
Predictably, given the opinions around illegal subsidies espoused by American and its US counterparts, the move has been greeted with minimal warmth, bordering on open hostility.
American clearly mistrusts the motives of its potential new shareholder, fearing that Qatar will use its position to influence policy.
Still, there are reasons to question the Doha airline’s move. Aside from the long-running row with the US big three, there is also trouble on its home front, with near neighbours closing their airspace to the carrier.
Many observers see the Saudi Arabian blockade as being tacitly approved, if not encouraged, by the Trump administration. What better way, then, to show that you are not the enemy, than by developing deeper ties?
While Qatar insists it will be a “passive” investor, American can be forgiven for wondering how long that will last.
Source: Flight International