Interesting news breaking this morning, and proof that aviation is never dull.
International Airlines Group has confirmed in announcement to the stock exchange that Qatar Airways has acquired a 9.99% stake in International Airlines Group.
The news has been welcomed enthusiastically by IAG CEO Willie Walsh, citing the fact that Qatar Airways has recently joined the Oneworld alliance and British Airways has recently started co-operating with BA on areas such as codesharing on Qatar routes from Doha to Asia.
Willie Walsh also cites the opportunity for further commercial co-operation between Qatar Airways and IAG mber airlines.
There is certainly scope for greater collaboration. For example, BA still serves Doha via a stop in Bahrain and the two airlines could explore a revenue sharing joint-venture on routes to and beyond Doha, as BA has with other Oneworld alliance partners such as American Airlines and Japan Airlines.
At the moment there are no changes to the board structure of IAG. Should Qatar Airways wish to increase its stake in IAG, under EU ownership rules, it would be capped at 49%.
Qatar Airways is not the first Middle Eastern airline to invest in European aviation as Etihad Airways has taken equity stakes in a portfolio of airlines such as Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alitalia and Air Serbia. Etihad also has a codeshare relationship with Air France KLM. Emirates has so far eschewed taking equity stakes in other airlines.
Finally, it is also noteworthy that Qatar Airways has invested in IAG at a time when it’s share price is at an all time high, above 550p. IAG’s share price has previously hit lows of around 110p.