Qatar Airways' increasing interest in Rwanda: Mulls buying 49% stake in RwandAir
Qatar Airways is in negotiations with RwandAir to buy a 49 percent stake in Rwanda's state carrier.
February 06, 2020: Qatar Airways is in negotiations with RwandAir to buy a 49 percent stake in Rwanda's state carrier, Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al-Baker declared. The move follows after Qatar Airways agreed to take a 60 percent stake in the new $1.3 billion Bugesera International Airport in Rwanda in December 2019.
A stake in an African airline would widen the company's reach in one of the world's fastest-growing aviation regions, and potentially help it bypass restrictions imposed on it by some Arab states, as reported by ALJazeera.
Qatar Airways already owns stakes in British Airways - parent International Airlines Group, China Southern, Cathay Pacific, and Chile's LATAM Airlines Group.
It bought some of its stakes in other airlines since once-lucrative markets the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia banned it from its airspace in 2017 amid a regional diplomatic rift.
The ban does not apply to non-Qatari airlines flying to Qatar. RwandAir could potentially carry passengers from Africa over the blocked airspace to the state-owned airline's hub in Doha without any airspace restrictions.
Al-Baker also said the airline could be interested in increasing its holding in LATAM and working with fellow shareholder Delta Air Lines.
"When the right opportunity comes and at the right price we will look at increasing our investment in LATAM," he told Reuters.
Qatar Airways has historically had a contentious relationship with Delta and other big US carriers, which have accused Gulf airlines of receiving unfair government subsidies, distorting competition and costing Americans jobs. The Gulf carriers have rejected such accusations.
However, Al-Baker said he had no ill-feeling towards Delta and was willing to work with the US airline at its hub in Atlanta.
Qatar Airways has also expressed interest in taking a stake in India's IndiGo and Morocco's Royal Air Maroc.