February 1, 2012 / 4:46 PM / 8 years ago

Fee hike threatens Qatar Airways services to Maldives

DOHA (Reuters) - A planned move by a private airport operator in the Maldives to raise handling fees would hurt Qatar Airways’ operations and threaten services to the holiday islands, the carrier said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Gulf Arab state’s flagship carrier said it was “dismayed” to learn of the Male International Airport operator’s plan to increase fees by 51 per cent and that the increase would “threaten Qatar Airways” continued presence in the Maldives.”

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker in a statement called the planned increases “totally unreasonable”.

“The Maldives economy is wholly based on tourism. If we or any other major player withdraws services because of these unwarranted and draconian measures, it will be the people of the Maldives who will lose out, affecting their livelihoods as they rely heavily on the tourism industry,” he said.

“My message to the Maldives authorities is to think rationally about the future prosperity of your tourism industry. These steps may have not been thought through seriously by the airport operator and I urge them to think again.”

Qatar Airways, half-owned by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority, bought a 35 percent stake in freight carrier Cargolux Airlines International CLUX.UL last year.

In June Al Baker said the airline was preparing to launch a low-cost carrier

Reporting By Regan Doherty, Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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