Qatar Airways to join oneworld alliance

Doha based, Qatar Airways is to join oneworld® airline alliance. Its election as a oneworld member designate was announced today at a press conference in New York.

The Doha-based airline’s implementation into oneworld is expected to take between 12 and 18 months. British Airways will serve as the carrier’s sponsor in joining oneworld. This move comes close on the heals of British Airways’ close partner Qantas entering in to a strategic partnership with Gulf behemoth, and Qatar’s strong competitor, Emirates airline.

Qatar Airways will be oneworld’s second member airline based in the Middle East, alongside Royal Jordanian, which joined oneworld in 2007. In just 15 years of operations, Qatar Airways has built up a strong network serving 120 destinations in 70 countries. The airline operates over 100 flights a week to India, second only to Emirates.

Qatar Airways already code-shares with oneworld member designate Malaysia Airlines. It will develop bilateral links with more airlines in the alliance as it moves towards becoming a member of the group. Two oneworld member airlines currently serve Qatar’s Doha hub – British Airways from London, and Royal Jordanian from Amman, along with member elect SriLankan, from Colombo. Additionally London is a major focus destination for Qatar Airways. The airline recently opened an ultra-premium lounge at Heathrow airport.

Among those alongside Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker at today’s New York press conference to welcome the airline to oneworld were American Airlines’ Chairman and Chief Executive Tom Horton, Chairman of the oneworld Governing Board; Chief Executive of IAG, parent of British Airways and Iberia, Willie Walsh; oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby; and senior representatives from other oneworld member airlines.

L-R Tom Horton (AA), Akbar Al Baker (QR), Willie Walsh (BA and IB), Bruce Ashby (CEO OW)
L-R Tom Horton (American), Akbar Al Baker (Qatar), Willie Walsh (IAG), Bruce Ashby (oneworld)

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said:

“Alliances are playing an increasingly important role in the airline industry today – and that will continue long into the future. Qatar Airways has carefully reviewed its strategic options and it is very clear that joining oneworld is by far the best way forward for us as we look to strengthen our competitive offering and give passengers what they fully deserve – more choice. Like Qatar Airways, oneworld is focused on quality and providing the best connections between the places most important to today’s frequent international travellers.

“In Qatar Airways’ relatively short history, we have quickly established a reputation for innovation, quality and excellence in everything we do, raising standards which our industry peers have watched with envy. We are pleased to build on that by becoming the only major airline from the Gulf to date to be invited to join any of the global airline alliances – and we are proud to have been invited to join the best of them, in oneworld. We look forward to completing all the joining requirements as soon as possible, and to fly alongside some of the best airlines in the world long into the future, bringing heightened benefits offered by oneworld to our customers.”

American Airlines’ Chairman and Chief Executive Tom Horton, Chairman of the oneworld Governing Board, said:

“Quality has always been the hallmark of oneworld, so we are pleased to welcome to our alliance another of the world’s highest quality airlines. oneworld aims to be the first choice alliance for frequent international travelers the world over. Adding Qatar Airways will significantly improve our connectivity between many of the destinations that are most important to those customers, so today’s agreement with Qatar Airways will enable us to offer even more value.”

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of IAG, parent of British Airways and Iberia, said:

“In Qatar Airways, oneworld is pleased to welcome another great airline that will enhance oneworld’s network and product offerings in one of the world’s fastest growing regions for air travel demand. Its fine reputation for customer service mirrors oneworld’s own focus. British Airways is delighted to be serving as the sponsor of Qatar Airways in joining oneworld.”

oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby added:

“The big three Gulf carriers have been embraced by millions of consumers the world over – just as consumers have embraced global airline alliances. Our own analysis clearly demonstrated that Qatar Airways is the best fit for oneworld’s network, requirements, philosophy and strategy. oneworld is delighted to be the first of the global alliances to welcome a member airline from this region, enabling us to be the first to offer consumers the services and benefits offered by both a global alliance and a Gulf carrier. We look forward to welcoming another great airline to oneworld.

“oneworld’s flexible approach to bilateral cooperation with carriers outside our alliance means that links already established between our member airlines with other carriers from this region may continue in tandem with Qatar Airways’ addition to oneworld, further strengthening the choice and convenience we collectively offer our customers.”

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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