Qatar Airways to grow despite boycott, CEO says

Akbar Al-Baker said his state-owned airline might know by April the size of the loss. (AP)
Updated 13 February 2018

Qatar Airways to grow despite boycott, CEO says

CANBERRA, Australia: Qatar Airways’ chief executive said Tuesday the carrier will post a loss this year because four other Arab countries have severed land, air and sea links with Qatar.
Akbar Al-Baker said his state-owned airline might know by April the size of the loss. He could not give a timeline on when the new routes would make up for markets lost.
“It all depends on how quick we will be able to mature the new destinations that we are operating instead of the destinations that were taken away from us during the boycott,” Al-Baker said.
“The world is very large and we are always looking at new opportunities which we have been doing very successfully. We will grow everywhere, not only by ... new destinations but also grow frequencies,” he added.
Qatar’s four neighbors have effectively cut their air, land and sea links, isolating it, though there is no military boycott.
President Donald Trump last year denounced Qatar for allegedly funding terrorism.
But Al-Baker has ruled out any reputational damage for his airline or his country from that accusation of supporting extremists that led to the severing of Qatar’s links with its neighbors.
“Mr. Trump realizes that he was misinformed, misled by the blockading countries to believe that Qatar was a pariah in the region, which is not the case. We are a big supporter and an ally of the United States,” he said.
Al-Baker rejected reports last month from the UAE, home of the world’s busiest airport in Dubai, that Qatari fighter jets had “intercepted” Emirati commercial airliners. The air forces of Qatar’s boycotting neighbors have never intercepted a Qatar Airways airliner, he said.
“This is false news just to increase the temperature and find ways to expand the conflict,” Al-Baker said.
The US and Qatar last month inked a deal to resolve a years-old quarrel over alleged airline subsidies.
The aviation agreement calls for Qatar Airways to open up its accounting books: US airlines say the company receives billions of dollars in government payments that leave them at a competitive disadvantage. Qatar also made a loose commitment not to launch flights to the US from Europe or other non-Qatari cities that would create yet more competition for US carriers.
Al-Baker denied his airline was subsidized and said he had no interest in using “fifth freedom” rights to stop in other countries en route to the US.
Al-Baker told reporters at a Kuwait air show last month that a US start-up airline had offered Qatar Airways a 25 percent stake.
The offer remains “under wraps,” Al-Baker said Tuesday.
“But Qatar as a country and Qatar Airways are very keen to invest in the United States,” Al-Baker said.


Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala to invest €1bn in French state-backed fund

Updated 1 min 16 sec ago

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala to invest €1bn in French state-backed fund

  • State-backed investment bank Bpifrance and Mubadala will both commit €1bn to the fund to support French companies
  • Bpifrance has said it aims over time to raise up to €10bn for the fund, which is to be used to shore up the capital of French companies

ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi state investor Mubadala Investment Company will invest €1 billion ($1.08 billion) in a new French state-backed fund to support French companies, France’s finance minister said on Monday.
State-backed investment bank Bpifrance and Mubadala will both commit €1bn to the fund which will launch next month, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said. Additional commitments from institutional investors such as insurers will bring the total invested to four billion, he said.
“The first foreign sovereign investment fund to invest in the French fund is Abu Dhabi’s,” Le Maire told reporters during a visit to Abu Dhabi.
“It’s sends a strong signal that Abu Dhabi’s fund is investing €1bn.”
Bpifrance has said it aims over time to raise up to €10bn for the fund, which is to be used to shore up the capital of French companies facing activist investor campaigns or adapting their business models or shareholder bases.
Bpifrance’s pitch on the fund to outside investors has said it would deploy capital in about 15 companies with a time horizon of 10 years.
Mubadala said in a statement that it saw “significant investment opportunities” in France and said that the fund would invest in companies with “compelling returns.”