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'Open Europe's airports 24/7 to compete,' says Gulf airline chief


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By Ian Taylor |19 May 2014 at 08.25 GMT


Europe's major airlines are losing out to the Gulf carriers because their airports don't operate through the night, according to the head of Qatar Airways.

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways chief executive, dismissed claims that the Gulf carriers - Qatar, Emirates and Etihad Airways - enjoy an unfair advantage because of the region's oil.

He said: "We don't have an oil well behind this [head office] building. We pay the same fuel price.

"Other airlines have the same access to Qatar. They have access to the same facilities. We pay higher for fuel in this country [Qatar] than in most countries in Europe."

Speaking in Doha following the launch of Qatar Airways' new all-business class service from Heathrow, Al Baker told UK journalists: "You would have the same demand as us if you had airports operating 24 hours a day.

"But your airports in Europe are locked up 11pm to 5am. This is a critical time for Asian flights and this is what we cater for."

He added: "European carriers are growing, but not at the level we are growing. You can only grow if you utilise your assets to the maximum.

"We use our narrow body aircraft nearly 13 hours a day, close to a low-cost carrier's utilisation. Our wide-body aircraft operate 17 hours a day. This is the problem [for European carriers]. We have a 24-hour airport."

He dismissed concerns about aircraft noise from 24-hour operation at airports, saying: "If you live under a flight path over a period you do not hear the noise. Aircraft nowadays are so efficient."

Al Baker added: "Our airport will keep growing because there is demand.

"There is a shortfall in airport aviation capacity around the world. As China grows so there will be more and more demand in our region. We are filling a void."

However, Al Baker said London could also grow. London needs a new runway, he said, because "London is a gateway to Europe - a destination every individual on earth wants to visit.

"Britain is a magnet for everyone in the world and the UK, especially London, will always be a magnet."

Qatar Airways will move its hub to Doha's new state-of-the-art airport Hamad International on May 27.

 

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Ele apertou na ferida, um dos motivos da perda de competitividade das européias é o fechamento dos aeroportos.

 

Em Londres, a situação é mais crítica por causa da novela da terceira pista.

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