British Airways boss Willie Walsh has warned that Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways could lose out to regional rivals Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways, in the race to establish global aviation hubs.
In an interview to be published in the September issue of CEO Middle East, Walsh said: “It is going to be difficult to see all three establish genuine global positions… There is a good argument to be made for two of those maybe.”
Rating the Gulf’s three big carriers, Walsh said: “Doha [is] likely to achieve its goal… The other one is likely to be Emirates [and] Etihad clearly has ambitions for that aswell. If I was to rate them I think Emirates and Qatar have a slight lead over Etihad in terms of developing their global hub strategy and global network.”
“The next five years will really tell and I know all of the major European hub operators are watching developments in the Middle East with great interest as clearly the carriers in the Middle East are looking to attract some of the customers that we currently serve and serve them over Middle Eastern hubs,” he said.