The week after ordering Emirates Airline to cancel an airfare promotion over the holidays, Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority is under fire by residents who say it is trying to protect national carrier Qatar Airways from fair competition.
The move, which some legal experts have said is against Qatari law, came after Emirates launched a worldwide sales campaign on Dec. 27 that offered a 25 percent discount on return fares for all of its destinations.
But the day after the sale began, QCAA told the airline to stop the campaign immediately, as Emirates had not received prior approval for the promotion.
On Dec. 28, Emirates sent an email to customers stating:
On 25th December Emirates launched a Global Sale, offering strong discounts on return airfares across our international network.
After the Global Sale began, Emirates received a notification from the local Qatari Civil Aviation Authority requesting that we stop the sale with immediate effect, due to the requirement of governmental pre-approval. Emirates respects the government rules and has subsequently stopped the offer within Qatar…
For those who were able to make a booking as part of this Global Sale prior to its cancellation in Qatar, these bookings are confirmed and remain unaffected.
In an editorial yesterday, prominent Al Arab columnist Mariam Al Saad, a Qatari, questioned QCAA’s motives, saying its decision was a blow to Qatari students looking for discounted fares, which are unavailable on QA.
The Peninsula reports:
Al Saad scathed the national carrier and said it exploits Qatari passengers since it has direct flights to major destinations in Europe, Arab countries and the US.
About the QCAA’s decision, she said “Does Qatar Airways dominate it? Are the interests of QA and QCAA one? Are they working in the interest of the country?”
On Qatar Living, commenter KiwiSilver said:
Yes we were affected by this. A flight home was going to be QR3000 less than the usual fare. We only fly Emirates because they offer best schedules, best value, best service for our destination. We are very disappointed at Qatar authorities trying taking action to prevent those of us living in Qatar accessing the Global sale. Shame on you Qatar!
It is not clear whether Emirates will pursue any legal action against the QCAA, though certain clauses in Qatar’s Civil Law work in the airline’s favor, including Article 199, which stipulates that any “erratic step” that harms the interests of “others” is illegal and punishable, the Peninsula reports.
Were any of you affected by the rescinded offer?
Do you think Qatar Airways has anything to do with this?