Oneworld will hold an event announcing a “significant membership development” on 8 October, coming amidst widely-reported discussions with Qatar Airways about joining the alliance.
The event will be held in New York and includes Bruce Ashby, chief executive of Oneworld, Tom Horton, chairman and chief executive of American Airlines, and Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), according to documents obtained by Flightglobal.
Qatar has been linked to joining one of the big three alliances in the near future.
Flightglobal is a reputable source so this does seem to suggest that they have inside information that Qatar Airways will be joining OneWorld if everything goes as planned.
There’s no denying this would be huge. The three big “players” in the Middle East are typically considered to be Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways, and while they’ve all formed extensive partnerships, we’ve yet to see any of them join one of the three big alliances. If one of the airlines joined it would almost certainly place pressure on the others to join one of the other alliances, which would be great for consumers.
That being said, I’m trying to rationalize Qatar Airways’ participation in OneWorld, and simply can’t:
- American already has partnerships with Etihad and Gulf Air, and Royal Jordanian is in OneWorld, so they have the Middle East pretty well covered.
- In the US, Qatar Airways would be a much better fit for the Star Alliance. They service Houston, New York, and Washington, only one of which is an American hub, so they gain very little in the US market.
- Qantas and Emirates just announced a HUGE joint venture, whereby Qantas will be funneling many of their passengers through Dubai.
Don’t get me wrong, having Qatar Airways join OneWorld would be a huge win, though it seems like they’d be ruffling up a lot of feathers with this. I think Qatar Airways would have a lot more to gain by joining the Star Alliance given that most Star Alliance airlines don’t have major relationships with Middle Eastern carriers already. And this could be a loss for OneWorld, given that I can’t imagine Emirates would be too pleased about this, and wouldn’t be surprised if they force Qantas to leave OneWorld and form a fourth alliance as a result.
If one of the Middle Eastern airlines were to join OneWorld, it would make a lot more sense if it were Emirates (due to their huge new partnership with Qantas) or Etihad (given their partnership with some OneWorld carriers already).
What do you guys think? Am I off base? Think it will be Qatar Airways announced on the 8th, or a different airline?
(Tip of the hat to Gary)