* Akbar Al Baker says no decision on Czech privisation yet
* Says fuel line concerns with Boeing's Dreamliner worrying
* Will look at what action can be taken if not resolved soon
By Praveen Menon
DUBAI, Dec 11 Qatar Airways is interested in the
privatisation of Czech Airlines (CSA), but has not taken a
decision on whether to participate in it, the chief executive of
the Gulf carrier said on Tuesday.
The Czech government said last week it was in early stage
talks with Qatar Airways and Korean Air over the
privatisation of the carrier, adding a decision on privatisation
could be taken as early as April.
"We have studied it but have not concluded anything," Qatar
Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker told Reuters at a
business jets air show in Dubai.
"We are still looking at the proposal," he added, declining
Gulf carriers are on an acquisition spree with Abu
Dhabi-based Etihad Airways picking up stakes in four airlines
this year including Air Berlin and Virgin Australia
Qatar Airways, which competes with other regional giants
like Etihad and Emirates, also took a 35 percent
stake in Cargolux last year.
The Czech government tried to privatise Czech Airlines in
2009 following heavy losses from a failed expansion plan. But
that fell through after the sole bidder, Czech charter airline
Travel Service, refused to buy the airline without securing a
capital injection from the government.
Czech Airlines, a member of the Sky Team alliance which also
includes Delta and Air France, has had to cut
back its fleet and services to avoid collapse. It lost 241
million crowns ($12.5 million) last year.
The company is owned by state holding group Cesky
Aeroholding, which also operates Prague Airport.
Qatar Airways, which received its first Boeing 787
Dreamliner earlier this month, will take appropriate action
against the planemaker if a recent manufacturing fault in the
fuel line is not resolved, Baker said.
U.S. regulators ordered the entire fleet of 787 jets to be
inspected for a possible fuel line problem earlier this month,
on the same day a brand new United Airlines Dreamliner
with 184 people aboard was forced to make an emergency landing
due to an undefined mechanical issue.
Baker said the incidents were a concern.
"It is very worrying for us because we are an operator. If
it continues we will have to see what action we can take from
the options contractually (available) with us."
Qatar has placed orders for 60 Dreamliners - 30 firm and an
option for 30 more.
The mechanical issues, while not uncommon for airlines, are
another headache for Boeing - a company still working to
overcome the negative perception of production problems that
delayed delivery of the 787 by 3-1/2 years.
Baker also said Qatar Airways was still in talks with
Canadian planemaker Bombardier to buy 10 corporate
jets in a deal valued around $700 million.
The chief executive said in April the order was imminent,
without specifying a time frame.
However, he said no talks were ongoing on the CSeries
aircraft at the moment.
"It (CSeries jet) is interesting but we are not talking to
them about it because we are too busy with our other programmes.
Once we finish, we will talk to them about it," said Baker.