Ironic: Qatar Airways Wants The Government To Force Their Competitor To Help Them

Filed Under: Air New Zealand, Qatar

On Sunday, Qatar Airways inaugurated the world’s longest flight, between Doha and Auckland. At over 9,000 miles, it beat out the previous longest flight in the world, between Dubai and Auckland.


Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar Al Baker, is known for being incredibly outspoken. Arguably he’s the most outspoken guy in the airline industry, from claiming that Qatar Airways’ economy is as good as premium economy on other airlines, to threatening to “hang [Delta’s CEO] to the wall,” to suggesting that the carrier’s near miss in Miami was a common occurrence (and those were all during just one press conference!).

As usual, Al Baker took the inaugural flight, as he held a press conference and gala in Auckland. Well, it seems like he has had some interesting things to say while there, especially about Air New Zealand. Specifically, he’s unhappy that Air New Zealand doesn’t want to help Qatar Airways, and thinks the government should step in.


Per the NZ Herald, at a press conference Al Baker talked about how airlines fear Qatar Airways when they enter a new market. The proof?

“The proof of this is unfortunately your national carrier has cancelled the SPA (special pro-rate agreement) we have in their domestic network,” he told a media briefing in Auckland today.

“As we promote New Zealand to the outside world the national carrier would want to be part of this but unfortunately, being pressured from their bigger alliance partners have withdrawn the SPA which means we can’t really connect the people of New Zealand to the large international network that we so wanted.”

Essentially what this means is that Qatar Airways can’t get special rates for their passengers to travel on Air New Zealand domestically on a Qatar Airways ticket. The logic here is obvious:

  • Qatar Airways wants access to these special rates so they can book passengers to cities in New Zealand other than Auckland; they’ll be able to sell more tickets to more destinations that way
  • Air New Zealand doesn’t want to help their competitor in any way, given that they’re competing directly with Qatar Airways to Europe, and Qatar Airways is even undercutting them on price in both economy and business class

Ticket-1 Ticket-2

So while I can see why Qatar Airways wants to work with Air New Zealand, is anyone surprised that the feeling isn’t mutual?

But here’s the best part — Al Baker thinks that the New Zealand government should put pressure on Air New Zealand to work with their competitor:

“I don’t think the New Zealand government should stand and watch this – they should put pressure on their national carrier – they should not do anything that hurts the interests of New Zealand.”

Ironically enough, the logic being used by Al Baker against Air New Zealand is very similar to the logic used by the “big three” U.S. carriers against the “big three” Gulf carriers — “the government shouldn’t stand by and watch this, but should protect the interests of Americans.”

Oh, and Al Baker also isn’t happy because Air New Zealand’s CEO didn’t accept Qatar Airways’ gala invitation:

“Not only that, but we invited the CEO of Air New Zealand to our function and he declined.”

Oh, Akbar…

(Tip of the hat to @sosweho)

  1. No its not. It’s diametrically opposite.

    Ironically enough, the logic being used by Al Baker against Air New Zealand is very similar to the logic used by the “big three” U.S. carriers against the “big three” Gulf carriers — “the government shouldn’t stand by and watch this, but should protect the interests of Americans.”

  2. @credit – when you disagree with a quote, normally you explain why you disagree with the quote note just include the quote and say its wrong.

  3. @Dan

    In both cases proposed by Qatar, passengers would save more money. Request for governmental involvement is incidental to the final result.

  4. Air NZ is 53% government owned. I guess it would be better for foreign passengers if Air NZ was forced to make a very poor business decision and provide assistance to a competitor trying to take its market share and customers. Doesn’t seem like it would be better for the NZ tax payers however.

    Do you believe the US government should force United to assist Qatar in the same manner since they are both in Star Alliance.

  5. Sorry post got cut off. You say “[r]equest for governmental involvement is incidental to the final result.” The whole issue is Qatar requesting aid from a government controlled corporation. I don’t see how a that could be incidental to the final result.

  6. @dan,

    No the whole issue is how much money I save. I don’t care what specious arguments anyone uses for that final result.

    Buy American usually meant, buy pricy but low quality. Any time a company uses patriotism to advance an economic argument (cue the republiturds) it means they are hiding something.

    Anyway, we dont have to agree about this.

  7. They wouldn’t need the government’s help if the government would let foreign carriers fly domestic routes.

  8. Having a stable profitable flag carrier is much more in New Zealands national interest than being forced to subsidize a foreign competitor ability to compete in the market. Poor Business decisions such as Ansett are why the carrier is now partly government owned.

  9. Air New Zealand is either being operated for the benefit of New Zealand consumers, or it isn’t. If it is, then there’s no reason Star Alliance connecting passengers should get a deal on domestic connections that isn’t available to QR passengers. If it isn’t, then why should they get a monopoly on those domestic routes?

  10. “Ironically enough, the logic being used by Al Baker against Air New Zealand is very similar to the logic used by the “big three” U.S. carriers against the “big three” Gulf carriers — “the government shouldn’t stand by and watch this, but should protect the interests of Americans.””

    Of course, the U.S. carriers are petitioning their own governments for assistance, not asking foreign governments to help them…I mean, imagine the CEO of Delta asking the government of Qatar to help out Delta at the expense of Qatar Airways.

  11. With Qatar and Qantas both being in oneworld, you’d think they would try and partner with QF owned Jetstar in NZ for domestic feed from the 8 cities they serve.

  12. @B

    Yeah, but Qatar and Qantas aren’t in good relations either due to Qantas’ ongoing lucrative partnership with Emirates (which saved Qantas from bankruptcy by allowing the carrier to axe its unprofitable routes). I can see Air NZ’s unwillingness to help another foreign carrier give how saturated Auckland is… 2x daily service by Emirates (1x nonstop from DXB and another via Melbourne), which probably already ate a lot into Air NZ’s international capacity – not that EK is to blame – it’s Air NZ’s choice to fly their AKL-LHR route via LAX anyway.

    I’m guessing QR is targeting specifically London or other European-bound New Zealanders, given QR’s extensive coverage in Europe and the Middle East, with cheaper cost (around 5-10% cheaper than an equivalent EK ticket), and somewhat superior product (42 mediocre J seats + 212 9-abreast Y seats is great) while cutting travel time (no more transiting thru MEL/ crowded DXB)… or to just penetrate the NZ market at last. Who knows? Maybe QR hopes to one day upgrade the route to an A380, or add capacity by flying the A359.

  13. Another example of QR showing the world the lead. Th old fuddy-duddy legacy carriers need to realise this is a new world. Wouldn’t you think the poor old, out of touch, out of reach Kiwis would encourage more international tourism. Promoted for them by the worlds Number 1 airline? Clearly not. It works a treat in South Africa. QR do DUR-JNB and they code share with BA and MN for other places. Snap to it New Zealand. ( And yes, QR not *A, definitely OW )

  14. Technically speaking a refusal to deal is by itself legal. An undertaking can absolutely legally refuse agreements with a competitor. NZ is in general correct in withdrawing the agreement.

    It gets trickier, if they withdraw from the agreement without any valid business reason and with the intent of hurting their competition. That would notably be the case, if NZ refused to sell any tickets to QR. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

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