Dubai: State-backed Arab carriers — Qatar Airways, Oman Air and Egyptair — floated the idea of privatisation at a regional industry meet in Dubai on Wednesday.
The comments were made by the airlines’ respective heads, Akbar Al Baker, Paul Gregorowitsch and Sameh Al Hefny, who were speaking on a panel at the Arab Air Carriers Organisation’s Annual General Meet held in Dubai on Wednesday.
“Once I have established myself as a very large and strong airline I wouldn’t mind being privatised,” Al Baker said.
He said he presently objects to the idea of being privatised because being state-backed gives Qatar Airways the needed capital to expand at its current pace.
The majority of airlines in the Arab world are owned by their respective governments, which has led to accusations of some from competitors in Europe and the United States that they are unprofitable and benefit from state subsidies.
Gregorowitsch, the new chief executive of loss-making Oman Air, said privatisation is being considered.
“We are on a journey to get the airline profitable and detached from the government,” he said.
Gregorowitsch said the airline, which will try to grab compete with the big three Gulf carriers for the subcontinent traffic, would be profitable by the end of 2017.
Egyptair’s chairman and chief executive, Al Henfy, said it would be ideal for the airline to be privatised, however, could not happen in Egypt’s current economic climate.
He also said Egyptair will look to increase transit traffic on the Europe-Africa and Africa-Asia routes. Al Hefny said the airline is targeting a return to profitability in August 2016.