Qatar Airways chief accuses US carriers of ‘bullying’

File photo shows an interior view of the Business Class seats on the second floor deck of an Airbus A380 of Qatar Airways. (AP)
Updated 24 April 2017
0

Qatar Airways chief accuses US carriers of ‘bullying’

DUBAI: The chief of Qatar Airways on Monday accused American carriers complaining over alleged subsidies to Gulf airlines of “bullying,” as he announced new US routes in defiance of mounting airport restrictions.
US carriers Delta, United and American Airlines have accused Qatar Airways along with Dubai’s Emirates and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad of benefitting from government subsidies to expand their transcontinental networks.
They have urged US President Donald Trump to take action against the Gulf airlines, who deny any form of subsidy.
Speaking to reporters at the annual Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al-Baker said he didn’t expect any action from Washington.
“President Trump is a wise individual and a very good businessman, and I don’t think he will buy into bullying by the three American carriers,” Baker said.
Qatar Airways was among the airlines affected by the ban imposed last month on electronic devices larger than a smartphone on flights to the United States from 10 airports in the Middle East and Turkey.
Baker, whose carrier is offering free laptops to premium passengers in response to the ban, said Qatar Airways has faced some drop in business to US destinations.
“There was some decline. Something manageable. We did not have massive declines,” he said.
“We still have robust business in the United States... and we will continue our expansion,” he added.
Baker announced San Fransisco as a new route to be added to its 10 US destinations early next year. A route to Las Vegas will be launched in the second quarter of 2018, he said.
Emirates, the Middle East’s largest carrier, said last week it was reducing flights to the United States in response to “weakened travel demand.”
The US ban went into effect on March 25 on nine airlines in Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Britain followed with a similar ban from five countries from the Middle East, northern Africa and Turkey.
The fast-growing Gulf carriers have turned their home airports into major hubs for international travelers, capturing a sizable chunk of travel between the West and Asia and Australasia.


Erdogan picks ministers for Turkey parliamentary race to boost his AK Party’s chances

Updated 23 May 2018
0

Erdogan picks ministers for Turkey parliamentary race to boost his AK Party’s chances

  • Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week
  • The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has picked prominent ministers to run for parliament next month, strengthening the ruling AK Party’s chances of winning a majority but putting their future role in government into question, party officials say.
Many cabinet members including the energy, defense, foreign and interior ministers were named this week by the party to run for parliament in the June 24 poll, where the Islamist-rooted AK Party faces a stiff challenge from an opposition alliance.
While boosting the list of candidates, the move could affect the shape of the future cabinet because lawmakers will not be able to hold ministerial posts under the new presidential system, unless they resign their seats.
The party, in power since 2002, remains Turkey’s most popular political force, but recent opinion polls have suggested it could struggle to win an absolute majority, even with the support of its nationalist MHP ally.
The latest fall in the lira, which has lost more than a fifth of its value against the dollar this year, could also work against Erdogan if voters fear the government is pushing prices and the cost of living higher.
Erdogan is still widely expected to win the presidential election to be held the same day. While the presidency will take on greater executive authority afterwards, an opposition-controlled parliament could vote down legislation.
“Erdogan wants to win a parliamentary majority in this critical election with a strong list,” said one AK Party member running for parliament.
A survey by MAK pollsters, viewed as sympathetic to the ruling party, showed on Wednesday that the parliamentary race is absolutely balanced, with the AK Party together with the MHP winning exactly 50.0 percent. In the presidential vote, it saw Erdogan winning 51.4 percent.

MINISTERIAL CHANGES
The move to throw high profile ministers into the parliamentary race could have a major impact on the composition of next cabinet.
“Under normal circumstances, those who are in the (parliamentary) list will not be appointed ministers,” a senior AK Party official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
Finance Minister Naci Agbal was not named as a parliamentary candidate, and three sources said he was expected to remain in the post-election cabinet.
However, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci is expected to leave the cabinet and run for a mayoral office, the sources said, while the future of Mehmet Simsek, deputy prime minister with responsibility for the economy, was undecided.
Investors have been watching closely for signals about Simsek’s role. As a former investment banker in New York and London, he is seen as one of the most investor-friendly members of a government at odds with economic orthodoxy.
The Turkish lira, already one of the weakest emerging market currencies this year, has lost another 13 percent against the dollar since Erdogan said in London last week that he planned to take greater control of the economy and that the central bank would not be able to ignore signals from the new executive presidency.
“Erdogan will make the last call on Simsek. Although Simsek’s policies are sometimes criticized, everyone knows that it’s hard to replace him,” an AK Party official said.
Simsek congratulated those on the party’s parliamentary list on Tuesday, adding in a tweet: “Onwards, no stopping.”
Officials say economic management is expected to be overseen by one of five vice presidents in a cabinet made up of 14 ministers — down from the current 21.
The changes have not yet been finalized, however, and may not be completed before the election, one of the AK Party officials said.