Qatar Airways hails holding in BA-owner as strategic cost saver

DUBLIN, June 3 (Reuters) – Qatar Airways said on Friday its 15 percent stake in British Airways-owner IAG was a strategic rather than financial investment which helped purchasing and network planning, but it was not seeking a board seat.

The Gulf carrier said in May it had increased its stake in International Consolidated Airlines Group to 15 percent from 12 percent amid a rapid global expansion.

"IAG is a strategic investment, not a financial investment," Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told reporters at the International Air Transport Association annual meeting in Dublin, adding Qatar was "satisfied with 15.01 pct.".

"The benefit is really unlimited, joint purchases, joint insurance, joint component repairs, handling, joint catering," he said, adding that Qatar’s Hamad International airport in Doha was a perfect hub to feed India, where IAG was not very strong.

He said he had "absolute confidence" in the management of IAG and that Qatar was not seeking a seat on the board.

Speaking to Reuters at the same conference, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh insisted that the Qatar Airways holding had no bearing on any operational tie-ups and any deepening of the partnership was "completely separate" to the equity holding.

While the airlines’ cargo partnership, joint procurement and code shares were working well, "we would do these whether they (Qatar Airways) had a stake in us or not," he added.

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