Qatar Airways said it will go ahead with plans to buy a stake in American Airlines even though the U.S. carrier is ending their code-share agreement.
American announced on Wednesday that it was canceling code-share agreements with Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways as "an extension of our stance against the illegal subsidies that these carriers receive from their governments." Both Middle East airlines deny they are state subsidized.
American's decision to end the agreements which allow airlines to book passengers on each other's flights, ramps up an acrimonious dispute between U.S. carriers and Gulf competitors over competitive advantages.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said on Thursday he was disappointed by the decision, but it would not affect the Middle East carrier's plans to buy up to a 10 percent stake in American, announced last month.
"Our stock purchase request and filing is going ahead as normal. We had to clarify certain questions of the regulator, which we compiled with," al-Baker told reporters in Doha.
Qatar Airways sent a revised antitrust filing to U.S. regulators on Wednesday seeking clearance to buy up to a 10 percent stake in the U.S. carrier, according to the filing.
A stake in American would add to Qatar Airways' investment portfolio, which already includes a 20 percent stake in British Airways-owner International Airlines and 10 percent of South America's LATAM LAN.SN.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, however, said in a letter to his employees last month that "We aren't particularly excited about Qatar's outreach" and that it was puzzling given the U.S. carrier's very public stance on state support given to Gulf carriers.