*New aircraft to account for both fleet replacement and expansion
Qatar Airways has 320 more aircraft to be delivered by various planemakers over the next few years, part of which will be used for “fleet replacement”, said group chief executive HE Akbar al-Baker.
“The average age of our aircraft is under five years, so we require many aircraft for fleet replacement. We also need many aircraft for meeting our exponential growth,” al-Baker said at a press conference on the sidelines of the "CAPA Aeropolitical and Regulatory Affairs Summit" at Sheraton Doha on Tuesday.
He said Qatar Airways demonstrated “tremendous resilience in the face of the blockade and our resilience as an airline is reflective of that of the State of Qatar as a whole.”
“Rather than falling to our knees, we have transformed the blockade into an opportunity to innovate and diversify.”
Post-the illegal blockade on the country, Qatar Airways has launched some 24 new destinations, he pointed out.
“We added 25 additional aircraft in 2018 alone. Our fleet strength is more than 230 now. As a matter of fact, we have already taken four more aircraft in January alone,” al-Baker noted.
He said, “We were the first to fly the Airbus A350 and next year we will be among the first to proudly fly the 777X.”
Qatar Airways has more than 160 passenger destinations and with the cargo network the number exceeds 200.
“We also follow a strategy to invest in the strongest airlines around the world,” al-Baker said referring to its recent acquisition of 5% of China Southern Airlines.
This investment further supports Qatar Airways' investment strategy, which already includes its 20% investment in International Airlines Group; 10% investment in LATAM Airlines Group; 49% investment in Air Italy and 9.99% investment in Cathay Pacific.
Earlier in his keynote address at the CAPA summit al-Baker said, “One of our key objectives is to ensure a regulatory environment that encourages investment and welcomes new entrants into the market. We strongly believe in the vital role that liberalised aviation plays in connecting people and fostering economic prosperity.
“While my country may be small in size, we are big in ambition. This is why we have set ourselves the goal of becoming the first country in the Gulf region to achieve a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement with the European Union. We expect that this agreement will demonstrate to the world that through positive engagement, we can build trust among nations, overcoming the fear of competition and embracing the benefits of liberalisation.”
“Liberalisation facilitates open and fair competition, enabling our industry to innovate and prosper despite structural and geopolitical challenges. While receding back to old protectionist approaches may be a normal reaction to the fear of competition, it will only result in compounding the challenges our industry faces.”
CAPA–Centre for Aviation executive chairman Peter Harbison, said,“This is an extremely important time in the evolution of aviation regulation. As the world seemingly drifts towards greater conflict in trade internationally, and pressures grow on the airline industry to become more restrictive in terms of market access, it is important to establish a reference point to address future directions.”
“The opportunity provided with this high-level group of experts in Doha is extremely timely, and we look forward to many valuable discussions over the next two days. We are grateful to the Qatari government and to Qatar Airways for this opportunity to bring together such a distinguished group of experts.”
The two-day CAPA Qatar "CAPA Aeropolitical and Regulatory Affairs Summit" features more than 30 expert speakers from across the airline, legal and government sectors discussing the latest developments in international aviation regulation, both within the Gulf region and globally.
The summit is being held under the patronage of HE the Minister of Transport and Communication, Jassim bin Saif al-Sulaiti. President of Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority, Abdulla bin Nasser Turki al-Subaey was among the dignitaries present at the opening session.