Posted on June 16, 2011

Qatar Airways, the Gulf Arab state’s flagship carrier, is considering an initial public offering (IPO) in 2011, its chief executive said on Tuesday. “It could be this year. The more market share we gain, the timeline moves forward,” Akbar Al Baker told reporters, adding that the airline had appointed advisors but declined to name them. “It will definitely be earlier than people expect.”

In December, the company indicated it was planning an IPO in early 2012 after three consecutive years of profit. The airline, half-owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, is close to finalising a 35 percent stake in Europe’s largest all-freight airline Cargolux. Al Baker said the airline is in its third consecutive year of profitability. “We made (net profit) of $205 million for the 2009/2010 fiscal year and over $230 million in 2010/2011. For the current fiscal year, my revenue is more than $6.5 billion. This is why we are preparing the IPO,” he said.

The airline is also preparing to launch a low-cost carrier, Al Baker said. “We will open a (low-cost carrier) as soon as we feel that our market share is being taken away. But we have the name registered, we have the business plan ready and we have the aircraft configuration ready. We will launch very fast once I press the button.” Regional low-cost carriers include Al Jazeera, Air Arabia, Bahrain Air and flydubai. Al Baker responded to reports that the airline was considering taking a stake in Portugal’s troubled state airline TAP: “No, this is not true. It’s a rumour.”

Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, is building a new airport with the capacity to accommodate 50 million passengers per year. It will host the 2022 football World Cup tournament.

source: Kippreport