(Bloomberg) -- Qatar Airways Ltd. is interested in raising its stake in Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., provided the move doesn’t “disrupt” the holdings of the top two major investors, Swire Group and Air China Ltd., the Gulf carrier’s Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said.
The Doha-based airline, which announced buying almost 10 percent of Cathay in November in a bid to gain a foothold in East Asia, wants to bolster its strategic relations with the Hong Kong-based marquee carrier, Al Baker told Bloomberg Television’s Stephen Engle in an interview Thursday. Qatar Air currently owns 9.9 percent of Cathay, he said.
“What happens in the future, of course, I cannot say because the aviation industry is very fluid at times,” Al Baker said. “At the moment, we have no intention to go over the stated goal that we already have in mind. We will not go beyond 10 percent mark in Cathay for the time being.”
Qatar Air bought 9.6 percent in Cathay from Hong Kong-based Kingboard Chemical Holdings Ltd. and related companies for HK$5.16 billion ($660 million) in November, making it the third-largest shareholder. The investment, coming months after being spurned by American Airlines Group Inc., would provide the Middle Eastern carrier access to mainland China, a country set to emerge as the world’s biggest aviation market within a decade.
Cathay has a huge potential to grow and the current restructuring efforts will help it overcome the tough times, Al Baker said.
Cathay is in the midst of the biggest corporate revamp in two decades to help revive earnings after getting squeezed between Middle Eastern carriers such as Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways PJSC at the premium end of travel, and low-cost and mainland Chinese rivals at the other. It has announced job cuts and was in talks with pilots over compensation as it reported its worst half-year loss in at least two decades in the six months through June.
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