American Airlines’ chief executive said on Thursday he is not “particularly excited” about Qatar Airways’ interest in buying up to 10 percent of the US carrier’s shares, in a letter to employees following the state-owned Gulf airline’s overture.
The move by Qatar Airways would expand its investments in North America as Qatar is embroiled in the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in years and is locked in an airspace rights row with three other Gulf states.
Separately, American Airlines is already part of a push by US carriers to squeeze Qatar out of their domestic market.
Along with United Continental and Delta Air Lines, American has pressed the US government to curb US flights by Qatar Airways and rival Gulf carriers Emirates and Etihad Airways.
The US carriers charge that their Gulf rivals have received billions of dollars in unfair state subsidies, allegations the Gulf carriers deny.
In his letter, American CEO Doug Parker promised to continue American’s “full court press … to stand up to companies that are illegally subsidized by their governments.”
He also said he found Qatar Airways’ proposed investment “puzzling given our extremely public stance on the illegal subsidies that Qatar, Emirates and Etihad have all received over the years from their governments.”
Qatar Airways responded on Twitter, saying: “We are glad to see American Airlines’ CEO Doug Parker’s perspective that he agrees with Qatar Airways’ belief that American Airlines is a solid financial investment.”
The potential investment is worth at least $808 million, American said in a regulatory filing on Thursday, and would put Qatar Airways’ stake on par with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which holds a 10 percent stake in the airline.
Shares of American Airlines rose more than 5 percent in pre-market trade after it disclosed the potential investment. The stock closed up 1.1 percent.
Qatar Airways said in a statement that it sees a “strong…