Qatar's budget carrier in three months

Qatar Airways will be able to launch a low-cost carrier with better services than the existing carriers in the region, its CEO said. (DENNIS B MALLARI)

Qatar Airways' could launch its own low fare airline in as early as three months' time, the airline's chief executive said.

Akbar Al Baker, who first told Emirates Business earlier this month that the airline is mulling a budget carrier option, told Bahrain's Arab News recently the airline was capable to roll out such service in 90 days.

"We are watching the market trends very closely and if Qatar Airways feels that low-cost carriers are undermining the revenue base of Qatar Airways this can happen in three months," he was quoted as saying.

"Even though we do not believe in this type of business, Qatar Airways will be able to launch a low-cost carrier with better services than the existing low frills carriers in the Middle East," he added.

For someone who has always been opposed a low-cost model, Al Baker told Emirates Business that Qatar Airways is considering the option to safeguard its market share.

"If the influx of low-cost carriers into the market is going to hurt my market share, we will launch our own low-cost carrier.

"Also, a low-cost model does not actually work in our region.

"But we will have to do something if my market share is getting hurt," he said.

He further said the airline would not, however, be tying up with any low-cost carrier to kick-start its operations.

"We may be enticed into launching a low-cost airline ourselves," he said.

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

There are three budget carriers operating out of Qatar at present, including Sharjah's Air Arabia, India's Air India Express and Bahrain Air.
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