Qatar Airways said the acquisition formed part of its plan to “strengthen commercial ties” with its oneworld partners and develop its “westwards strategy” in Europe.
“IAG represents an excellent opportunity to further develop our westwards strategy. Having joined the oneworld alliance it makes sense for us to work more closely together in the near term and we look forward to forging a long term relationship,” said Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar Al Baker.
Under EU law, European shareholders must own a majority stake in EU airlines. And while Qatar Airways said it “may consider increasing its stake further over time”, it added that it has “no immediate plans” to exceed 9.99%.
The acquisition comes at a time when IAG is on the verge of agreeing a deal for Aer Lingus. Qatar Airways’ Gulf rival Etihad Airways currently holds a 4.1% stake in the Irish carrier. Unlike Etihad, Qatar Airways doesn’t have a history of investing in other airlines, but Al Baker recently told reporters he would be “extremely interested” in acquiring a stake in Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo.
In a very brief statement on the Qatar Airways deal, IAG’s chief executive, Willie Walsh said; “We’re delighted to have Qatar Airways, one of the world’s premier airlines, as a long term supportive shareholder. We will talk to them about what opportunities exist to work more closely together and further IAG’s ambitions as the leading global airline group.”
The terms of Qatar Airways’ investment in IAG were not disclosed.