Qatar Airways group is using its stake in US private charter operator JetSuite to invest in the North American airline sector and sees strong growth opportunities for the business.

The gulf carrier group revealed in April it had joined JetBlue Airways as a JetSuite investor, and chief executive Akbar Al Baker tells FlightGlobal that the move is part of its strategy to “invest in successful carriers”.

“We have shareholdings in large airlines in Europe, the Far East and South America, and of course we wanted to have an interest in a carrier in North America,” he says.

Qatar Airways had initially sought a holding in its Oneworld alliance partner American Airlines, but “we were snubbed”, says Al Baker. “We looked for another opportunity and found that in JetSuite.”

The airline group has not specified the size of its JetSuite shareholding, describing it simply as a “minority stake”.

California-based JetSuite and its JetSuiteX affiliate operate what is dubbed a “semi-private” business model using a fleet of 20 Embraer Phenom business jets and nine ERJ-135 regional jets. The operator sells jet cards and on-demand charters for its Phenom fleet. Its newer JetSuiteX scheduled public charter subsidiary operates the ERJs from private aviation terminals across California and Nevada.

“It operates in a very lucrative sector of the airline industry. There is a huge potential for expanding this operation,” Al Baker. “We are fully supportive of growth [to more US regions].”

Source: Cirium Dashboard