by Sam Dean from The Telegraph, June 22, 2017
Qatar Airways has made an “unsolicited” approach to acquire 10pc of American Airlines.
The Doha-based airline has told American it intends to invest at least £638m in the US company, sending its share price up around 6pc in pre-market trading.
The move, which would make Qatar Airways one of American’s biggest shareholders, follows a similar approach it made to British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) in 2015.
Qatar Airways took a 10pc stake in IAG before doubling it to 20pc, making it the company’s largest shareholder.
It comes amid ongoing tensions between major US airlines and their Middle Eastern counterparts, who they have accused of gaining an unfair advantage through government subsidies.
American’s chief executive, Doug Parker, has been a vocal critic of Gulf carriers, saying last year that the issue of alleged government subsidies is “the biggest threat I have ever seen to commercial aviation in the United States”.
In a statement, the US airline said: “The proposed investment by Qatar Airways was not solicited by American Airlines and would in no way change the company’s board composition, governance, management or strategic direction.
“It also does not alter American Airlines’ conviction on the need to enforce the Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and the nation of Qatar and ensure fair competition with Gulf carriers, including Qatar Airways.
“American Airlines continues to believe that the President and his administration will stand up to foreign governments to end massive carrier subsidies that threaten the US aviation industry and that threaten US jobs.”
The company added that anyone looking to acquire 4.75pc or more of the company must have “advance approval from the board” after making a written request. It said it has not received such a request.
The approach comes weeks after Qatar was plunged into crisis by a string of Arab countries cutting their ties with the Gulf nation over accusations of backing terrorist groups, which Qatar denies.