Qatar Airways buys nearly 10% stake in rival airline

Two for the price of one fares for a limited time

Qatar Airways will purchase 9.61% of Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific.

Earlier this year it made a bid to buy 10 percent in American Airlines, the United States' largest carrier, but the deal went sour and Qatari officials eventually said that "it no longer met" Qatar Airways' goal.

Qatar Airways will purchase the stake for HK$5.16 billion (€570 million) from Kingboard Chemical Holdings and associates, according to a statement, becoming Cathay's third-largest investor after local conglomerate Swire Pacific, with a 45 per cent holding, and Air China Ltd. with nearly 30 per cent.

Cathay's shares fell 1.7 per cent to HK$12.98 in afternoon trading after slumping as much as 4.9 per cent in the morning session.

Qatar's investment in the Asia-Pacific carrier comes three months after it abandoned an effort to purchase up to 10% of American Airlines.

Hong Kong's Kingboard Chemical yesterday said it had sold the stake to Qatar Airways for HK$5.16 billion (S$902 million), making the Middle Eastern carrier the third-largest shareholder in Cathay.

Since June, Qatar has been isolated by neighbouring countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. "Cathay Pacific is a fellow Oneworld member and is one of the strongest airlines in the world, respected throughout the industry with massive potential for the future".

Swire Pacific holds a stake of 45% in Cathay, while Air China has 30%. The two carriers codeshared on each other's services between the two cities, with Cathay also placing its CX airline code on Qatar-operated services beyond Doha to points in Europe, the Middle East and South America and Qatar adding its QR airline code on selected Cathay-operated flights to Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. The route was axed "for commercial reasons".

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