DOHA: Qatar Airways is interested in raising its stake in Cathay Pacific Airways, provided the move doesn’t “disrupt” the holdings of the top two major investors, Swire Group and Air China, Qatar Airways group chief executive officer Akbar al-Baker said.
The Doha based airline, which announced buying almost 10% of Cathay in November in a bid to gain a foothold in East Asia, wants to bolster its strategic relations with the Hong Kong-based marquee carrier, al-Baker told Bloomberg Television’s Stephen Engle in an interview yesterday. Qatar Airways currently owns 9.9% of Cathay, he said.
“What happens in the future, of course, I cannot say because the aviation industry is very fluid at times,” al-Baker said. “At the moment, we have no intention to go over the stated goal that we already have in mind. We will not go beyond 10% mark in Cathay for the time being.”
Qatar Airways bought 9.6% in Cathay from Hong Kong-based Kingboard Chemical Holdings and related companies for HK$5.16bn ($660mn) in November, making it the third-largest shareholder. The investment would provide Qatar’s national carrier access to mainland China, a country set to emerge as the world’s biggest aviation market within a decade.
Cathay has a huge potential to grow and the current restructuring efforts will help it overcome the tough times, al-Baker said. Cathay is in the midst of the biggest corporate revamp in two decades to help revive earnings.