American Airlines Dodges Unwelcome Embrace as Qatar Airways Moves On
Doha: Qatar Airways dropped a plan to invest in American Airlines Group following a chilly reception from the US carrier. Buying a stake “no longer meets our objectives,” Qatar Air said in an emailed statement on Wednesday, alluding to the “latest public disclosure” by American without elaborating. The US carrier reported financial results July 28, capping an earnings season in which rising concerns about airlines’ pricing power dragged industry stocks to their worst month in a year. The decision by Qatar Air marks a vic tor y for American Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker, who called the proposed stake purchase “puzzling at best and concerning at worst”. American, Delta Air Lines Inc and United Continental Holdings Inc have fought a running battle against Qatar Air and two other Persian Gulf carriers, which US airline executives accuse of getting unfair advantages from $50 billion in alleged government subsidies. “Either they saw something they didn’t like — and I don’t know what that would have been — or this was just kind of a tit-for-tat” extension of a verbal battle that began when Qatar Air’s plan was made public, said aviation consultant Bob Mann. “Suggesting there was something there that other people ought to figure out is a risk takes one more shot at American.” “We respect Qatar Airways’ decision not to proceed with its proposed investment in American Airli nes,” said Matt Mil ler, a spokesman for the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier. Qatar Air had been interested i n acqui ri ng about 10% of American, which would have put the state-owned company on par with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway among shareholders of the world’s largest carrier. Any purchase of more than 4.75% would have required approval by the US airline’s board.