Qatar Airways joins OneWorld alliance: It’s a promiscuous airline world

Courtesy lt.wikipedia.org

MIDDLE-EAST carrier Qatar Airways is joining the OneWorld alliance, sponsored by British Airways (BA). Besides BA, the alliance is anchored by airlines such as Qantas, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways. Other airlines include Iberia, Japan Airlines and Chile’s LAN.

Qatar chief executive Akbar Al-Baker said: “Qatar Airways is delighted to have been invited to join OneWorld, which will provide extensive benefits to our passengers and to OneWorld passengers.”

As this followed close on the heels of the recent announcement of the Qantas/Emirates Airlines partnership and just hours after Air France-KLM revealed its partnership with Etihad Airways, Mr Baker all but hinted at how other airlines are beginning to see the importance of working with Middle-east carriers. He said: “It’s a recognition they are taking Gulf carriers seriously after writing them off,” said Akbar Al Baker, the chief executive of Qatar Airways. “When you cannot defeat someone, you’ve got to join them.”

Clearly Middle-east carriers are becoming not only more aggressive as the spread their wings across the globe but also more competitive, offering high standards of service. Qatar Airways for one was voted Skytrax’s best airline of the world 2012. Key Middle-east airports, in particular Dubai International, are also reclaiming their popularity as hub airports connecting the wider regions of Asia and Europe.

But it is a complicated, if not seemingly promiscuous, airline world as more airlines seek to tie-up with one another, with some of them in duo-arrangements that may cross the broader alliances. There are of course benefits to the airlines in terms of cost, shared facilities and network meshing amongst some of them, and to the passengers who may need only be concerned with one booking to fly connected flights.

Vice president for international affairs and alliances at Air France-KLM, Dominique Patry, said:  “The airline industry remains very fragmented. But, eventually, alliances may be a vehicle for the consolidation of the airline industry. There would be the logical thing.

It may change the air traveller’s perspective in his or her choice of airline brand, since he may well be flying a different airline from that booked originally. Yet for the airlines, it is still a game of survival of the fittest – self before alliance.

Qatar’s induction as a member of OneWorld is likely to raise the question of Emirates’ standing. The latter has yet to join an airline bloc. (Star and Sky Team are two other major alliances). As for Qantas, theoretically, it cannot be in a more enviable position for now.

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About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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