Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker has broken his silence on the Australian government’s move to block his airline’s request for additional services.
Mr. Al Baker spoke with CNN’s Richard Quest from Seattle, where Qatar Airways is promoting additional services with Alaska Airlines.
Here is the interview in full:
“So let’s start with the Australian business. Do you think there was some funny business in refusing your application to fly there, and are you now more hopeful that you’ll get permission?”
Mr Al Baker:
“I’m always hopeful for the government to listen to our case very carefully and then make a decision. We know we can never influence a government decision, but the fact remains that we were very surprised for getting these rights blocked, or unapproved, I can say. There is a parliamentary inquiry and it is very difficult for me to make any comments.
“We have full confidence in the government and in the parliament and in the Senate of the Australian government, so we will have to wait and see what conclusion they get up to. But we found it to be very unfair, our legitimate request to be not granted, especially at the time when we were so supportive of Australia, repatriating the stranded citizens from around the world, to and out of Australia, helping them receive medical supplies and spare parts, et cetera, et cetera, during the COVID period. When the national carrier and their partners completely stopped operating in Australia, we were there for the people of Australia.”
In the United States, there’s no such shortage of expansion. I mean, aren’t you running out of places to fly to yet?
Mr Al Baker:
“No. The United States is a huge country and there are still several destinations. There are several cities that we are looking at operating to.”
“But, I mean, is it now part of, this operating to the US, new cities, is it very much part of a closer and better relationship with American Airlines, your Oneworld partner? Because I think you’d agree, that under new leadership, the relationship between the two is better than it has been.”
Mr Al Baker:
“Absolutely. We have the strongest and closest relationship with our Oneworld partner, American Airlines. We are also working very closely with Alaskans over here. We have a close relationship with JetBlue. So yes, we see that now the relationship is so strong, the sky is the limit for our joint relationship to keep on growing.”