AviationUS state department questions Qatar blockade

American ‘puzzled’ by Qatar Airways interest

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American ‘puzzled’ by Qatar Airways interest

American, United and Delta have been pushing US political leaders to curtail the growth of the Middle East's three biggest airlines, saying that they are all government-owned, subsidised airlines that have an unfair advantage.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker has sent a letter to employees in response to Qatar Airways’ offer to acquire a 10% stake - valued at some US$800 million - in the company.

In the letter, Parker wrote, "While anyone can purchase our shares in the open market, we aren't particularly excited about Qatar's outreach, and we find it puzzling given our extremely public stance on the illegal subsidies that Qatar, Emirates and Etihad have all received over the years from their governments.” 

American, United and Delta have been pushing US political leaders to curtail the growth of the Middle East's three biggest airlines, saying that they are all government-owned, subsidised airlines that have an unfair advantage.

"While today's news for some of our team may be puzzling, at best, and concerning, at worst, here's what we know for sure: We will not be discouraged or dissuaded from our full court press in Washington, D.C., to stand up to companies that are illegally subsidised by their governments," Parker wrote.

American said in a regulatory filing that the bid was unsolicited, but that the CEOs of both airlines have spoken.

"Qatar Airways sees a strong investment opportunity in American Airlines. Qatar Airways believes in American Airlines’ fundamentals and intends to build a passive position in the company with no involvement in management, operations or governance," the Doha-based airline stated.

Earlier this month Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar and blocked direct flights with the country. Qatar Airways, one of the region's largest, also stopped its flights to the four Arab countries in response to Etihad, Emirates, FlyDubai, EgyptAir and Gulf Air suspending flights to Qatar.

Meanwhile, The US State Department has questioned the motives of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their boycott of Doha, saying it was "mystified" the Gulf states had not released their grievances over Qatar. 

Quoted by CNBC, a state department official added, "At this point, we are left with one simple question: Were the actions really about their concerns regarding Qatar's alleged support for terrorism or were they about the long-simmering grievances between and among the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries?"

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