DUBLIN, April 7 Militants would be able to get
around a ban on carrying large electronic items into the cabins
of planes bound for the United States by travelling from cities
not impacted by the ban, Qatar Airways' chief executive was
quoted as saying on Friday.
The U.S. introduced security measures on March 25 banning
electronic gadgets larger than a mobile phone from passenger
cabins on direct flights to the United States from 10 airports
in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, including Qatar.
"Instead of going from the airports where there is a ban,
they will go to airports where there is no ban," Akbar Al Baker
told the Irish Times in an interview.
"And there are no bans in certain airports that are very
risky – I don't want to name them – but it is far easier to get
on to aeroplanes from those places than it is with us."
Announcement of the restrictions prompted some media
speculation it was aimed at protecting U.S. airlines by stifling
the growth of the fast-expanding Gulf carriers and Turkish
Airlines, a theory dismissed by U.S. officials and many experts.
Gulf airlines Qatar, Emirates and Etihad Airways have been
battling a lobbying campaign in Washington by U.S. carriers that
accuse them of receiving unfair subsidies, charges that the Gulf
carriers deny and which Al Baker dismissed.
"We got equity, not taxpayers' money, and we were given
enough equity for us to be independent, which we are today, and
we have to show profit," he was quoted saying.
"We are buying American aeroplanes in big numbers and we are
providing jobs. Every single flight we do brings economic
benefits to the U.S. So to us, America is first."
The newspaper also quoted Al Baker as saying Qatar did not
plan to increase its 20 percent stake in British Airways-owner
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by David Holmes)