Qatar Airways ready to board low-cost bandwagon


Qatar Airways is currently contemplating setting up its own budget carrier to combat increasing competition from the low-cost carrier segment in the region, said the airline's chief executive.

"Launching a low-cost carrier is becoming a fashion now and we may soon join the fashion too.

"However, we will not be tying up with any low-cost airline. If the influx of low-cost carriers into the market is going to hurt my market share, yes, we will launch our own low-cost carrier. We will not stay quiet," said Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive of Qatar Airways.

At present, there are three budget carriers that operate out of Qatar. These include Sharjah-based Air Arabia, India's Air India Express and Bahrain Air. "All said and done, a low-cost is not really low-cost in our region. And the model does not actually work in our region. But we will have to do something if my market share is hurt," said Al Baker.

"Personally, I am still against the idea of a low-cost carrier. But joining the bandwagon would not be because I am for the idea. It is for me to pre-empt what somebody else is doing to hurt my market share," he added.

The move comes close on the heels of Dubai Government's recent decision to set up a budget carrier to operate out of Dubai, which is expected to take off in a year's time with assistance from Emirates.

The Doha-based carrier will also start hedging fuel for the first time within a month's time, said Al Baker.

"The fuel prices are going up by the day. We are going to implement a hedging strategy for the airline for the first time, within the next one month. It will be a 12-month renewable hedging strategy," he added.