European carriers need not fear Qatar Airways: chairman

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The head of Qatar Airways said Wednesday that European carriers need not fear competition from his company as there was enough business to go around.

"It is very sad that carriers in Europe look at us as a hostile entrant into the market," Qatar Airways chairman Akbar al-Baker said here in southern France where he had come to inaugurate service from Nice to the Qatari capital Doha.

"It is not because we are going to take business from them because there is a lot of business."

European airlines, notably Air France-KLM, have voiced concern at increased activity on the part of Gulf-based companies, complaining of differences in taxation that they say result in unfair competition.

Al-Baker attributed the European attitude to a realisation that "they cannot meet the highest standards of in-flight services -- the highest standard of hospitality, the highest standard of product delivery we give to the passengers ..."

"This is why they are so frightened of us coming into the European market."

He said Qatar Airways currently operates flights to 95 destinations on six continents. After the Nice-Doha link, the company wants to add Bucharest, Budapest, Brussels and Stuttgart to its European operations in the coming months.

Al-Baker added that for the moment Qatar Airways had no plans to begin low-cost service.

"Qatar Airways will not get into the low-cost business for the time being," he said.

"Qatar Airways will only launch a low-cost carrier if we find that low-cost carriers entering into our market are taking our market share."

© 2010 AFP

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