As European airlines experience huge losses while airlines in the Asia-Pacific region grow, those in the Middle East are becoming more powerful and more influential – shifting the balance of power in the airline industry. The Middle Eastern airlines are driving consolidation while gaining key positions that give them control on the industry's global agenda, and others in the industry are being forced to recognise this is a trend they have to live with.
Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz was once the most vocal opponent of Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Now he says he has “high respect for the entrepreneurial achievements” of these competitors. Meanwhile, Qantas is failing to protect its “Kangaroo route” between Australia and Europe from the three. Emirates now says it is interested in a “commercial arrangement” with Qantas – a deal that would be similar to admitting defeat for Qantas.
In a period where the “Middle East three” buy into other carriers, play with the idea of joining one of the global alliances, write multibillion-dollar checks for new Airbus and Boeing aircraft and scare competitors with record growth, IATA recently announced remarkable changes. North America is losing a seat on the association board and the Middle East is gaining one, to be filled by Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. The Asia-Pacific region will also get more representation.
[pictured: Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker with IATA CEO Tony Tyler; courtesy Qatar Airways]