‘We love competition’: Qatar Airways CEO welcomes new Saudi carrier


A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-200LR takes off from Malaga Costa del Sol airport.

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Qatar Airways says it welcomes competition from new Saudi Arabian flag carrier Riyadh Air, although acknowledges the many challenges and headwinds currently facing the wider industry.

“We like competition,” Akbar Al Bakr, CEO of Qatar Airways, told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the Arabian Travel Market conference in Dubai on Monday.

He said, “We will compete like we have been competing for so many years.”

Launched in March, Riyadh Air will be Saudi Arabia’s second flag carrier, with a main operational base in Riyadh and Wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, The new airline says it will serve more than 100 destinations globally by 2030 and forms part of the Saudi royal family’s Vision 2030 programme.

But new competition in the sector may not mean cheaper airfares. Asked whether consumers could see a drop in ticket prices, Al Bakr said: “That’s not going to happen at Qatar Airways.”

“If you want cheap fares, you have to go and fly airlines that also have cheap products,” he said.

another good year?

last June, Qatar announces record profit of $1.54 billion For the financial year 2021 to 2022. Al Baker is confident that the carrier will be able to maintain its impressive results.

“I am very satisfied with my performance. We will have again [a] Have a great year… We look forward to a great future for Qatar Airways.”

Al Baker is also optimistic about the recovery in demand for Chinese travel following the relaxation of the strict lockdown in the country, saying it is going to “rebound and rebound very quickly”.

there is unrest

However, some constraints remain in the aviation industry, such as supply chain complexities and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

“The biggest challenge for the industry is the conflict in Ukraine, and the instability it’s causing around the world,” Al Baker said, adding that the ongoing development “is bringing a lot of uncertainty to the air travel business.”

He cited India, China and the Far East markets as being particularly affected.

An additional spanner in the works will be a backlog of aircraft deliveries.

The CEO said, “We already have a lot of aircraft on order. We are struggling to get them on time.”

Consultancy group McKinsey had previously flagged supply chain issues as becoming a main stumbling block on the commercial aviation landscape. “Major manufacturers have plans to ramp up production and are facing challenges in ramping up capacity and supply chain,” said a report dated February 15.

Al Baker elaborated that airlines are not getting their engines on time, and aircraft manufacturers are not getting their parts either. The situation is further strained by the limited number of aircraft engine manufacturers such as General Electric and Rolls-Royce, he said.

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