Qatar Airways Still Interested In Doubling LATAM Ownership Share

Qatar Airways is still looking to increase its stake in LATAM Airlines Group to 20%, said Akbar al-Baker, CEO of the carrier.

Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways is still looking to increase its stake in LATAM Airlines. Photo: Airbus

Trying to match Delta’s stake

The objective of Qatar Airways is to have an equal stake with Delta Air Lines in LATAM. The American carrier acquired 20% of LATAM last September. That month, the carrier announced it would invest $1.9bn USD.

“When the right opportunity comes, and at the right price, we will look at increasing our investment in LATAM,” said al Baker to Reuters.

Delta completed its purchase of the 20% stake at the end of 2019. The carrier said this deal would open growth opportunities. Also, their customers would have a wider choice of destinations.

Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, said this partnership “will bring together our leading global brands, enabling us to provide the very best service and reliability for travelers to, from and throughout the Americas.

In October, al Baker said that Qatar Airways had no forewarning of Delta’s intentions to purchase a stake in LATAM. He added that his airline didn’t dictate to LATAM how to conduct its business.

Delta has a 20% stake in LATAM Airlines. Photo: Oliver Holzbauer via Flickr.

Qatar’s expansion continues worldwide

The Middle Eastern carrier is also in talks to buy a 49% stake in RwandAir, the national airline of Rwanda, said al Baker.

Currently, Qatar Airways has a 49% stake in Air Italy (originally named Meridiana); a 20% stake in the International Airlines Group; a 10% stake in Cathay Pacific; a 10% stake in LATAM and 5% in China Southern Airlines.

According to Reuters, Qatar Airways bought some of these stakes after the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia banned the airline from their airspace. But this ban does not apply to non-Qatari airlines flying to Qatar. So, these carriers can bring passengers from all over the world to the Doha International Airport without any restriction.

Regardless, US carriers have criticized the actions of Qatar Airways. As they do with other Middle Eastern airlines, they say Qatar Airways is subsidized and that its presence in some markets via staked-airlines poses a threat to American jobs.

Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways has stakes in several airlines. Photo: tjdarmstadt via Wikimedia Commons.

LATAM will leave oneworld on May 1st

Returning to Latin America, the stake of Delta in LATAM still has a consequence pending. LATAM will leave the oneworld alliance on May 1, 2020.

Originally, the South American carrier was planning to leave the alliance in October. Despite its new association with Delta, no one expects LATAM to join SkyTeam and will likely remain independent from any global alliance. Maybe, as Luis Felipe de Oliveira, CEO of ALTA and soon-to-be CEO of ACI World, said,

“The airlines in the region are seeing move value in doing agreements with different airlines rather than one alliance.

This mindset can be seen in Latin American airlines like Interjet which currently is not a part of any alliance. Still, Interjet has codeshare and interline agreements with other carriers worldwide such as JetBlue, Emirates, Qatar Airways, ANA and Lufthansa, among others.

What do you think? Is it better for Latin American airlines to remain out of airline alliances? Let us know in the comments.