Qatar Airways has been revealed as the owner of a 10 per cent stake in International Airlines Group (IAG), which is the owner of British Airways and Iberia.
According to the BBC, the stake is worth about £1.15billion, and it gives Qatar closer links with a group that has two major European hubs and strong transatlantic networks.
Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker, said that Qatar Airways is excited to invest in a company like IAG.
“IAG represents an excellent opportunity to further develop our westwards strategy,” Mr Al Baker said.
The two groups’ route networks are largely complementary, with Qatar strong in Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East, while Iberia flies to many destinations in South America.
Qatar said it could increase its holding, but would be limited by the 49 per centcap on non-EU ownership of European airlines.
Neither group said whether IAG had been aware of Qatar’s stake-building and did not say who the shares had been bought from, or when the BBC reported.
Qatar has more than 130 aircraft and a further 340 on order and it is competing with other Gulf airlines including Emirates, based in Dubai, and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad.
The Doha-based carrier had 22million passengers in the 2013-14 financial year, compared with 44.5million for its larger rival Emirates, what is exciting though is that IAG carried just over 77million passengers in 2014.