Qatar Airways raises holding in British Airways operator IAG again

Qatar Airways increased its stake in British Airways owner IAG for the second time in less than three weeks, as the Arabian Gulf carrier seeks to benefit from closer ties with its European partner.

The move lifts Qatar Airways’ holding in IAG to 15 per cent from a stake of close to 12 per cent, which the Doha-based airline revealed last month. After an initial investment in January last year to acquire a 9.99 per cent share, a further increase within the European Union regulation that limits foreign ownership of airlines to 49 per cent may be considered, state-owned Qatar Airways said in a statement.

The investment bolsters the airline’s “westbound strategy” by providing access to IAG’s trans-Atlantic network and leading positions at hubs in London and Madrid, said Akbar Al Baker, chief executive officer of Qatar Airways. It also enables the airline to take more advantage of IAG’s acquisition of Irish carrier Aer Lingus.

“It gives us a huge benefit from a financial, commercial and strategic perspective,” Mr Al Baker said at a press conference in Atlanta.

Qatar Airways first drew closer to IAG after joining its Oneworld alliance in 2013, aided by the backing of the London-based company’s chief executive Willie Walsh at a time when other European carriers were openly hostile to the expansion of Gulf rivals.

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