Holy mackerel, it must be April Fools in Doha or something. Over the weekend I posted about a Flightglobal article suggesting that Qatar Airways would be joining the OneWorld alliance, including the following quote:
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.
Qatar Airways has no plans to join the oneworld airline alliance, its Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said on Sunday, dismissing reports that the airline had become the newest member of the group as “rumor.”
Asked if the carrier would join oneworld, which includes British Airways, owned by IAG, Baker said: “No, we will not. It’s all rumors.”
And today the Financial Times is reporting that Qatar Airways will be joining the OneWorld alliance:
Qatar Airways is set to be the first of the fast-expanding Gulf carriers to become a member of one of the global airline alliances, by agreeing to join oneworld.
I can understand Qatar Airways not wanting to confirm the rumor until the official announcement is made, but the CEO blatantly dismissing it? I don’t get it…
Definitely a big win for frequent flyers, though like I said in my previous posts, I don’t see this as an especially good match from the perspective of OneWorld airlines. I guess this helps to explain why Qatar Airways and United terminated their relationship in September.
The one thing worth noting is that on the mileage redemption front Qatar’s relationship with American won’t be quite as lucrative as it was with United. That’s because for the most part American doesn’t let you transit other zones on an all partner award ticket without pricing it as separate awards. Through United you could book Qatar Airways award tickets from the US to the Middle East, Asia, Africa, etc. Through American you’ll only be able to book Qatar Airways award tickets to the Middle East and India unless you want to book separate tickets or use a distance based award.
I also wonder what this means for American’s relationship with Etihad Airways…