* Emirates invests in planes, not shares, says CCO
* Would order more A380s if Airbus revamps plane, he says
* Says has redeployed planes after route suspensions
(Adds comments on flight suspensions, A380 revamp)
FRANKFURT, Sept 1 Airline Emirates is
not interested in investing in the international operations of
Qantas, the Dubai-based carrier's chief commercial
officer (CCO) said on Monday.
In the biggest restructuring step since Qantas was
privatised two decades ago, the airline is hiving off its
international arm from its domestic business.
The move will allow a foreign airline to take as much as a
49 percent stake - a major change from the previous 35 percent
limit - and analysts had suggested that alliance partner
Emirates could be interested.
But Emirates' CCO Thierry Antinori said that doesn't fit
with the airline's strategy.
"We buy planes and invest in products; we do not buy
shares," he told Reuters in an interview during an event in
Frankfurt to celebrate the airline putting an A380 jumbo jet on
the Dubai-Frankfurt route.
Under its partnership with Qantas, through which the
companies share some revenue, Qantas has moved its European
operations base from Singapore to Dubai and Emirates is letting
Qantas share its new terminal, which was for the exclusive use
of its Airbus A380.
Emirates, though, has shied away from traditional airlines
alliances One World, Star Alliance and Sky Team, saying it
prefers to go it alone.
The rapid expansion of Gulf carriers such as Emirates, Qatar
and Etihad has posed a particular problem for European legacy
airlines. Lufthansa and Air France are both
planning to expand their low-cost units to respond to
competition from Gulf airlines and budget rivals.
Antinori, a former Lufthansa manager, said this kind of
thinking was the wrong path to take.
"If you, as an airline, and there are unfortunately a lot of
examples of this in Europe, begin to calibrate your strategy as
'what can I do against this airline or this airline', you will
fail," he said.
Antinori also said that recent suspensions of routes to
places such as Arbil, Syria and Tripoli because of fighting in
those countries were not good news for Emirates but that the
company had been able to redeploy planes on routes such as to
Casablanca and Budapest. Emirates has also suspended flights to
Guinea because of the Ebola virus.
"It's not good news, but we are able to redeploy the
aircraft and to limit the damage," he said of the suspensions.
In particular, the suspension of flights to Arbil, northern
Iraq, is damaging to its cargo operations, Antinori said.
Load factors are still running above last year's levels, he
said when asked whether the route changes were having an impact
on how full its planes were.
He also confirmed that Emirates is still interested in
ordering more A380s from Airbus if the planemaker
revamps the jumbo jet with new engines, and that the airline is
in continuous discussions with Airbus.
Emirates is the world's biggest operator of the A380, with
51 in service and another 89 on order, but Antinori said further
orders would have to be for the more fuel-efficient neo version
of the aircraft.
He also said Emirates will remain patient as it waits for
Germany to rework the air traffic agreement that allows Emirates
to fly to only to four airports in the country.
The airline is keen to fly to Berlin and Stuttgart but says
it does not want to give up its services to Hamburg, Frankfurt,
Munich and Duesseldorf. It had previously lobbied hard for the
right to fly to more airports.
"One day it will come," Antinori said.
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Peter Maushagen; Editing by
Harro ten Wolde and David Goodman)