The parent company of British Airways has withdrawn its membership of peak European airline body the Association of European Airlines (AEA) in protest over the group’s hardline stance against Gulf airlines Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.
International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), which also operates Spanish airline Iberia, released a statement claiming that “on some important policy issues” it was “not aligned with the other AEA legacy airlines”.
“In particular, we believe global liberalisation of our industry is fundamental to our future growth and we are not willing to compromise on this fundamental matter.”
Qatar Airways – the subject of fierce criticism by European and US rivals which claim it and other Gulf airlines benefit from government subsidies – acquired a 10 percent stake in IAG in January for a reported £1.15 billion.
The AEA and the majority of US carriers have lobbied their respective governments in a bid to roll back Open Skies agreements, which they say unfairly advantage the Gulf airlines.