Qatar plots aggressive expansion, blasts UK on air capacity
Qatar Airways’ aggressive expansion will continue over the coming three years if it grows according to plan – from 119 to more than 170 destinations. It will start by adding 15 new destinations to its network in 2013, CEO Akbar Al Baker said in a keynote address to the UK Aviation Club in London where 250 global aviation industry professionals had gathered. As previously reported, the airline is also aiming at full integration into the oneworld alliance within 12 months.
“Our aggressive expansion will continue unabated,” he said. “We will […] operate in new markets where other people dare not venture. Until now we have been very successful in finding and fuelling new markets.”
Al Baker also attacked the European Union for forcing European airlines to make “drastic changes to stay alive” such as cutting jobs and services. The EU European Trading Scheme is a “way for governments to boost their shallow treasure chests,” he added. And he warned that the UK economy faces a “catastrophic situation”, unless the government there urgently addresses capacity constraints at Heathrow.
He insisted that a third runway at the world’s busiest international airport was “not an option but a necessity” to overcome the capacity crunch. “Heathrow is bursting at the seams and has already reached a critical point. […] Heathrow is already losing out to European neighbouring hubs that have the resources to expand capacity. Measures to expand need to be taken soon to avoid a catastrophic situation in the future.”
ATW / TTG Digital
[pictured: Akbar Al Baker addresses UK Aviation Club in London; photo courtesy Qatar Airways]