Qatar Airways To Make “Historic Announcement” In New York

As anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows, I’m fascinated by Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ CEO. He’s one of the most passionate/insane people in the airline industry. So I feel strongly about him, both positively and negatively.

Al Baker certainly isn’t afraid to open his mouth. He has called Delta’s CEO unpatriotic, unethical, and weak, just to give one example.

Qatar-Airways-A350-Business-Class-96

That brings me to his latest announcement, which makes me curious. Via Travel Market Report, Al Baker claims he will “usher in a historic moment in American aviation” in New York on December 9, 2015:

According to a press invite received by Travel Market Report, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, is headed to New York City “to usher in a historic moment in American aviation” on Dec. 9.

The invitation states, “We’re under strict orders not to reveal the particulars just yet, but we will messenger over the full details to attendees as we approach the date.” It calls Al Baker’s visit “a pivotal announcement.” Other topics the CEO will discuss will include US growth outlook, fleet strategy, Open Skies and the future of commercial travel in the US.

That’s all we know as of now, though of course it won’t stop us aviation geeks from speculating. On one hand this could be complete BS, as Al Baker is well known for his baseless proclamations and puffery. Claiming to “usher in a historic moment in American aviation” sounds huge, though I can’t think of anything which would actually fit that bill.

Realistically, what could Al Baker be announcing in New York? Just some speculation on my part:

  • Qatar Airways’ first A380 flight to the US, as they presently only fly the A380 to Bangkok, London, and Paris (if they wanted to fly it to New York they’d have to change terminals, though, as Terminal 8 can’t handle A380s)
  • A joint venture with a US airline, maybe American Airlines; while American has been battling them over OpenSkies, maybe they’ve finally come to their senses and realized they’re better off working on something which could be mutually beneficial
  • Qatar Airways buying a stake in a US airline, maybe JetBlue, which they already codeshare with extensively; this could make a lot of sense, though given the political rhetoric associated with the “battle” between the US and Gulf carriers, this may not be so popular
  • It’s all puffery, and they’re reminding people of Qatar Airways’ upcoming expansion to the US, and maybe adding another route or two
  • A pay per view boxing match between Akbar Al Baker and Richard Anderson; I’d pay 100,000 SkyPesos to see that

Qatar-Airways-A380-First-Class-113

Bottom line

I’m curious to see what the announcement is. I’m guessing this “historic moment in American aviation” is as simple as them showcasing the planes they fly, and maybe announcing another route or two. But I suppose a further partnership with a US carrier, or perhaps even a stake in one, isn’t out of the question. After all, Qatar Airways does own a ~10% stake in IAG, which is the parent company of British Airways and Iberia.

Anyone want to speculate as to what this “historic” announcement will be?

Comments

  1. Last January he was boasting of introducing a super premium business class by 2016 that would compete with EK and EY first class–could this be a follow-up?

  2. I hope it is something positive and has nothing to do with his earlier threat to leave Oneworld??? I still have a trip to plan and AA miles to burn…

  3. I bet he’s coming to personally apologize to you, Lucky, because you were for some inexplicable reason fearful of being dragged off to a dank dungeon instead of being handed a glass of champagne and a bowl of warm nuts the last time you passed through his humble little corner of the world.

  4. An American company he owns is going to start a new airline, that’s my guess.

    Showing a new route etc or new plane is nothing earth shattering or having to do with the future of american aviation.

    Would love to see a new airline owned through an american company owned by a foreign carrier to destroy the US3

  5. Wow, your speculation (save for your joke bullet at the end) mirrors all of the main guesses as well as their pros and cons as discussed on the airliners.net thread about this. Not even a citation to that thread as they seem to be the ones you used to come up with ‘your’ speculation?

  6. His ego makes Trump look like a salt-of-the-earth guy. Historic announcement? Has he discovered a cure for cancer? Maybe he’s making an emancipation proclamation…freeing the cabin crew from servitude. 😉 My guess is A380 service announcement, but hoping for at least something a little more substantial.

  7. I think they will buying into a US based carrier possibly JB. If that happens I think you will quite possibly see EK aline with AS, which would be fine with me. Serves DL right ! And maybe AA but don’t think so Parker loves to run his won show too much to share with someone especially a partner with that much cash.

  8. My guess is he’s going to announce the first regularly scheduled sub-orbital tourist space flights. Richard Branson is going to be very pissed.

  9. The only “historical announcement” I can think of is his acquisition of one of the three major US based airlines – United Airlines/Delta/AA. The acquisition of JetBlue (a tiny regional airlines) is not even close to “historical” at all. Not to mention “Qatar Airways’ first A380 flight to the US” ! There are so many A380s flying around so many different part of world, how historical is that ?? AA and US Air have just merged, they are not eager to be merged again so soon. United is too messed up to be merged. That will leave to the acquisition of Delta… maybe border line of “Historical Announcement”. If everything else, that’s only a bluffing from a man with ego as high as Himalayas!!

  10. It’ll be something even more shocking than anyone else predicts:

    Akbar Al Baker will receive a hair transplant.

  11. My guess is they’re launching a half dozen USA-DOH flights with stops in various European cities (a la JFK-MXP-DXB that EK flies). This will represent a second daily frequency in all cases and compliment the non-stop they already offer. ARN, CPH, MAD, or BCN are my best guesses for destinations and I’m thinking they’re going to serve them from NY/BOS/CHI.

  12. It certainly would be historic if he announced he intended to buy a US airline since government regulations restrict foreign ownership. Yes, the A350 is bookable but QR would be the first airline flying it to the US, no? To the media, that announcement would still be an “event”. Pulling out of OW would certain hurt a friend of mine who’s got a lot of QR flights booked to keep his AA status.

  13. Clearly regarding the “super-business class” seats he’s been whining about. Not sure how that’s not one of your options…

  14. Some other speculation I saw was that Qatar might be listing on the NYSE. The jetBlue stake would make a ton of sense though given that Lufthansa recently discarded their jetBlue stake.

  15. After watching Donald Trump, he’s going to buy himself a US citizenship and make a run for the presidency.

  16. ATL will become the US base for more than one Qatar flights wth 5th freedom rights and with a JV with an American airline to code share throughout the US.

  17. Doubt it is an acquisition or merger with a US carrier. All are publicly traded (including JetBlue), and an acquisition would need to be announced to markets within a few days after an agreement is signed. And it would be nearly impossible to time the announcement of an acquisition of a publicly-traded company two weeks ahead of time. If anything, the speculation would bid up the price of shares in US airline stocks in the lead-up and lead to an increase in the purchase price to Qatar of the target.

  18. I hope Ken is right, but my guess is he’s announcing he’ll be The Donald’s running mate. Citizenship is no problem for these two blowhards. Trump will just “change the law.”

  19. Qatar has had enough of there being no AA award seats available for Qatar FF’s to connect to. They are quitting OneWorld and joining Sky Team, where they will code share with Delta.

  20. I have flown QR both in First and Business Classes long haul and short haul their service,reliability and product far surpass anything US or European carriers offer I am looking forward to flying them again soon!

  21. easy… he’ll announce a new 5th freedom flight of Qatar flight within the US… perhaps from LAX/SFO-JFK-DOH…. you heard it here first!

  22. Thanks for not posting my comment where I call you out for basically summariziing airliner.net threads Ben. You missed another one here:

    Ben says:
    November 25, 2015 at 4:37 pm
    Wow, your speculation (save for your joke bullet at the end) mirrors all of the main guesses as well as their pros and cons as discussed on the airliners.net thread about this. Not even a citation to that thread as they seem to be the ones you used to come up with ‘your’ speculation?

  23. Some interesting comments here, but the key words are “historic moment in American aviation”. So leaving Oneworld, flying yet another A380, offering a new type of first or business class seat for Qatar, etc, isn’t relevant.

    With all the hyperbole this man spouts, it might not even be that historic.

  24. Looks like this ‘could’ be about the a350 coming to NY? Just booked 2 J tickets NY-DOH-IST and asked the AAgent about the new earlier flight aircraft, “359”. Boom, booked 2 round trip.

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