Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways’ CEO
Akbar Al Baker of Qatar Airways said: "We will take every single opportunity we get to expand our business." Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: Qatar Airways, one of the biggest long-haul carriers in the world, would go for an IPO - but investors eyeing a chance will need to wait quite a bit. According to Akbar Al Baker, it’s CEO, a stock market float would have to wait until 2030.

The Gulf country’s flag carrier became fully government owned in 2014 after Qatar’s sovereign fund bought a 50 per cent stake from a former prime minister and other shareholders. Qatar Airways also holds a 25 per cent stake in European airline major IAG, which owns British Airways.

"Despite Qatar Airways being a giant in international travel, any IPO in the region will be more of a ‘development project’ for the country it is being held in," said Linus Bauer, Founder and MD of Bauer Aviation Advisory.

Regardless of the purpose of the listing, investors will be making a beeline for the aviation giant. Qatar Airways, which grew its long-haul market during the pandemic, is up for a World Cup sized boost a the end of this year.

The financial year 2021-2022 has been the “strongest” in the history of the airline, said Al Baker during a virtual event last week. “What is important for us is that we showed how resilient and flexible the airline is and that we are not going to slow down or shrink the company. We will take every single opportunity we get to expand our business.”

Aviation hub

Qatar Airways will certainly benefit from Doha’s status as a regional aviation hub.

Hamad International Airport (HIA), which opened to the public in 2014, is set to increase its capacity to more than 58 million passengers annually by this year. A Phase B expansion, set to commence after the FIFA World Cup, will raiseits capacityto over 60 million.

HIA will be processing 8,000-10,000 passengers an hour during the World Cup period, said Al Baker during Thursday’s press conference in Doha.

Last year, reports emerged that Dubai’s Emirates Group was considering a listing. At an event earlier this year, Emirates President Tim Clark said he saw immediate interest from bankers.

“I had to disconnect the phones because every banker in the world was on our door saying we’ve got investors who want to chuck money at you,” said Clark.