Posted on June 09, 2011

Qatar Airways today announced it had entered into a strategic equity and commercial partnership with Cargolux to acquire a 35 per cent stake in Europe’s leading cargo airline.

The agreement was signed in Luxembourg today (June 9) by Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker and Cargolux President and CEO Frank Reimen in the presence of the Prime Minister of the State of Qatar, His Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabor Al Thani, and Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance Luc Frieden.

The accord will give Qatar Airways a greater foothold in the growing freight business offering synergies with the cargo operator, which has a global reach from its Luxembourg hub.

Doha-based Qatar Airways Cargo provides freight services to more than 100 destinations, worldwide using the cargo space available on Qatar Airways’ passenger aircraft fleet. In addition, the carrier operates dedicated freighters to over 30 destinations within the airline’s international route map.

Qatar Airways operates a mixed fleet of 98 passenger, cargo and corporate jet aircraft. Its freighter fleet comprises five aircraft – three Airbus A300-600s and two Boeing 777s flying across six continents. The carrier has a further four Boeing 777 freighters due to join its fleet over the next few years.

Cargolux operates a fleet of 16 Boeing 747 freighters flying to over 90 destinations around the world. It will be the launch customer of Boeing’s next generation wide body 747-8 Freighters with 13 of the aircraft-type on order. Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “The agreement signed today is the first major step by Qatar Airways towards substantially expanding the cargo side of its operations, a great opportunity to capitalise on a rapid growth business.

“We seek to fuel our growth plans by further developing our air freight business as a major part of our overall product offering and develop Qatar as a leading global cargo hub and one of the major players in the international freight market by 2015. “With the opening of a brand new international airport in Doha next year, complete with state-of-the-art passenger and cargo facilities, we look forward to building up a combined dynamic business model."

Added Al Baker: “Our investment in Cargolux, a sound, healthy and profitable company and a leading all-cargo carrier, will deliver great value to Qatar Airways proving to be an excellent strategic partnership. We look forward to strengthening our Doha hub with greater freighter operations that will see Cargolux in the not too distant future serve Doha, to create synergies with Qatar Airways Cargo and our freight business on Qatar Airways’ passenger flights.”

Al Baker said that with the combined complementary freighter fleet of both airlines, together with plans by Qatar Airways to convert some of its Airbus A330 passenger aircraft into cargo planes, the carrier will become a formidable force in the global cargo business.

Cargolux President and CEO Frank Reimen said “We have identified numerous synergies owing to the complementary nature of our businesses that will enable us to develop scale and reach and strengthen our respective hubs in Luxembourg and Doha. The implementation of the cooperation plan will be a driver of high customer satisfaction, enhance our competitiveness through improved returns and benefit the Luxembourg economy overall through extra trucking and handling tonnage and the creation of new jobs.”

Award-winning Qatar Airways is one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, ranked Five Star for service and excellence. The Doha-based airline currently operates a modern fleet of 98 passenger and cargo aircraft to over 100 destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.