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Qatar chief points finger at Lufthansa
Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker is blaming Lufthanasa’s hostility to Gulf airlines for the decision to reject the Star Alliance and join the rival Oneworld.
In an interview in London, after addressing the Aviation Club of the UK in London, .he said overtures from British Airways (part of IAG) contrasted with the attitude of the German airline, which had been a long-standing partner.
“My first code-share with a European carrier was with Lufthansa, but unfortunately their strategy is to kill competition,” Mr Al Baker said. “It is to shun Gulf carriers, and I think they have lost in this very lucrative alliance chess game.”
Qatar is the first Gulf airline to join to a global alliance and is due to become a full Oneworld member within 18 months.
At the Aviation Club event he was seated with Willie Walsh, CEO of BA parent IAG. Mr Al Baker described Mr Walsh as “forward looking” and wise to the benefits of avoiding the enmity shown by some Europeans as Gulf carriers grab lucrative long-haul traffic.
Third runway at Heathrow urged
Meanwhile, Mr Al Baker used his platform of speaking to aviation top brass to call on the UK government to address capacity constraints at London Heathrow to avoid a “catastrophic situation’” for the country’s economy.
“Heathrow is bursting at the seams and has already reached a critical point,” he said.
The solution meant building a third runway at the world’s busiest international airport to remain competitive with rival European airport hubs.
“Measures to expand need to be taken soon to avoid a catastrophic situation in the future. The UK government cannot afford to immerse itself in long winded debate and public enquiries. Action needs to be taken.”
The government recently began a review to address the critical airport issues in southeast England in the face of growing competition from airports in Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.
Cathay releases Earlybird fares
The last of the major full-service airlines operating to Europe, Cathay Pacific, has just released its earlybird fares for 2013 – too late for inclusion Friday’s NBR Executive Travel feature.
Cathay offers a choice of 110 cities in Europe through direct daily services from Auckland to Hong Kong that connect with flights on London, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Rome, Amsterdam and Moscow. The other 103 destinations are with partner airlines.
The rock-bottom return fares start at $2009, including all taxes and surcharges, for economy to Rome and rising to $2229 to London, the difference being the tax component. Cathay is guaranteeing the fares through to November if booked by the end-of-year deadline.
Aussies let loose in hotels
Beware customers of online travel agent zuji.com.au. It's done a customer survey that shows they excel at leaving their good behaviour at home and let their concerns about the environment relax when staying in a hotel.
Almost a quarter of the 1000 respondents admitted to doing a “nudie run” through a hotel corridor and about 10% admit to regularly holding room parties. Men proved about 5% more likely than women to have run naked through the halls.
A major surprise was the 45-54 age group, which was statistically the most likely demographic to have run naked, was also the most likely to regularly sleep naked and most likely to have had room parties.
Nearly two-thirds admitted to getting an extra key cut to keep the air-con running all day, taking long showers and getting their towels washed every day.
Not surprisingly, Zuji’s managing director Hames Gaskell says, "Overall, Australians like to relax and unwind when staying in a hotel room. Sleeping in late, having access to free breakfast and Wi-Fi and finding a hotel which provides good value for money are major priorities.”