Due to the corona pandemic, Lufthansa and Air-France sense a chance to shake the aviation agreement in Qatar. This was completed in 2019, but has not yet come into force. The two airline groups are now trying to bring down the agreement by means of joint lobbying work.
In principle, the agreement would bring relief to both EU carriers and those from Qatar, but Qatar Airways will primarily benefit from it. Air France-KLM and Lufthansa, among others, had already resisted this in 2019, as it was feared that the carrier belonging to the Oneworld alliance could pull passengers out of the EU on a large scale via Doha. Instead of concentrating on improving your own product, you try to enforce your interests through lobbying.
Qatar Airways has made headlines in the past for its working conditions. That is why the agreement between the EU Commission and Qatar is also controversial among trade unions. The European pilots association ECA already pointed out its concerns in 2019 and is now also of the opinion that Qatar Airways could cause overcapacity and thus the recovery of the European providers could become more difficult.
Spohr and Smith on a joint mission
Air France KLM boss Ben Smith and Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr are now trying to intervene with their governments. The leaderships of Germany and France are considered to be particularly influential at the EU level. But there is also a tailwind from the European Parliament, because the Committee on Transport and Tourism has been demanding since the beginning of February 2021 that the CATA agreement should come into force later.
The agreement provides that Qatar Airways, among other things, will have free access to the market. Initially, the number of weekly flights and destinations in the Union area is to be increased, and later the restriction is even to drop entirely. This would enable the carrier to connect every point in the European Union with Doha. This is exactly what Lufthansa and Air France-KLM, for example, are really afraid of. Although Qatar is committed to higher social standards and fair competition, the trade unions also ensure that these points are actually adhered to. In the cargo sector - if the agreement comes into force - carriers such as Qatar Airways could also fly from Union territory to third countries. Thus it would theoretically be possible for the airlines mentioned to use machines from Germany, for example.