British Airways Forms Joint Business With Investor Qatar Air

  • Carriers will code-share on routes linking 70 destinations
  • Combined timetable, revenue sharing planned on London-Doha

British Airways parent IAG SA and its largest shareholder Qatar Airways agreed to set up a joint business that will see them code-share on flights linking dozens of destinations while operating a joint timetable and sharing revenue and costs on services between London and Doha.

The deal, which comes into effect on Oct. 30, will see British Airways attach its code to Qatar flights beyond Doha to destinations in countries including Pakistan, Ethiopia, Iraq and Vietnam, with the Gulf carrier doing likewise on the U.K. airline’s operations to cities across the U.K. and continental Europe.

The companies said Wednesday they’ll also code-share on their flights between Britain and Qatar, including seven daily trips between London and Doha, which will essentially become joint services. Regulatory authorities have been informed of plans to operate single timetables and set common fares.

Qatar Airways last month lifted its IAG holding to 20 percent, taking advantage of a slump in London-based group’s share price following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Qatar first took a stake last year after its Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker became close to IAG counterpart Willie Walsh, who had backed the Gulf carrier’s bid to join the Oneworld global alliance.

Trans-Atlantic Pact

The agreement will mean “easier journeys with better aligned schedules, more frequencies and improved flight transfers,” Walsh said in a statement.

Joint ventures are the closest form of collaboration open to airlines from different countries and regions that are unable to merge due to regulatory restrictions, with IAG’s trans-Atlantic pact with American Airlines Group Inc. is one of the biggest profit generators in the industry.

The group -- which also includes Spanish carriers Iberia and Vueling as well as Ireland’s Aer Lingus -- has struck a similar deal with Latam Airlines Group SA covering routes to South America, though antitrust approval is required. Latam shareholders have separately agreed to sell a 10 percent stake to Qatar Air.

Some code-sharing routes announced between IAG and Qatar require government approval before operations can begin. Those include routes to India, France, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda and the Philippines.

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