Why Qatar is Buying 25% of Vnukovo Airport

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al Baker loves to ‘rub salt in the wounds’ and said that’s why he launched Doha – Atlanta. The airline loves to pick up awards, and so does the man himself. So it’s a double win for them to be Atlanta airport’s cargo airline of the year.

There’s little question though that Qatar Airways is a tool of Qatar diplomacy. That’s why they struck a deal go give up nothing while settling complaints from United, Delta and American that they’re subsidized. It not only puts the issue behind them at little cost it put the UAE’s Emirates and Etihad in an awkward spot.

Qatar agreed not to operate fifth freedom flights to the U.S., something they have zero interest in doing. Meanwhile Emirates does already operate fifth freedom flights. Their agreement makes it seem reasonable that Gulf carriers should walk away from these flights.

The airline makes strategic investments in other carriers. They sought to make inroads with the United States by buying a piece of American Airlines before they were rebuffed. Largely they seemed to be trying to curry favor and cement alliances as they face conflict with neighbors Saudi Arabia and the UAE. And as the US becomes closer to both, they need to cement alliances elsewhere.

Last year the King of Saudia Arabia made a first-ever visit to Moscow. An escalator was rolled up to his plane instead of stairs and the escalator got stuck.

With a need for friends as a hedge against the U.S., wanting to counteract any cooling of Saudi relations with Russia (especially strained over Syria), it makes sense that Qatar is acquiring “up to 25 per cent of Moscow’s Vnukovo International, Russia’s third-largest airport.”

By the way Qatar doesn’t even serve Vnukovo, they currently fly three times daily to Moscow Domodedovo.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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