Qatar Airways to join OneWorld… for real this time

As it turns out Qatar Airways will be joining OneWorld, despite their CEO, al-Baker, being quoted as saying:

Baker also said Qatar was not preparing to join the oneworld alliance after sources close to the airline group said that next week it would become the first Gulf carrier to join.

“Qatar Airways is not considering joining oneworld at this time,” Baker said.

and:

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.”

and:

Asked if the carrier would join oneworld, which includes British Airways, owned by IAG, Baker said: “No, we will not. It’s all rumors.”

I can understand the CEO not wanting to confirm the announcement in advance, but outright denying it seems over the top. Anyway, it’s supposed to be 12-18 months before the integration is complete.

When I first heard the speculation I shared my thoughts on why I thought this wasn’t a good fit, and I stand by it. While Qatar is a great airline, this will cause serious friction with Qantas (which has a huge joint venture with Emirates), American (which has a partnership with Etihad), and Air Berlin (which is partly owned by Etihad). With all three airlines I suspect this will either lead to the airlines dropping their current partners or dropping OneWorld altogether. I’d say American will likely terminate their relationship with Etihad eventually, Qantas may eventually be forced to terminate their membership in OneWorld, and Air Berlin may also eventually terminate their relationship with OneWorld. That’s all speculation at this point, though, and it’ll be interesting to see what actually happens.

Comments

  1. Michael says

    Do you think Emirates would possibly jump to SkyTeam if there is enough friction/route chafing to cause them issues?

  2. lucky says

    @ Michael — I think both Qantas’ and Emirates’ priorities right now are their joint venture, and if anything happens, it’ll be a joint move by both carriers. In other words, I don’t think either carrier is joining another alliance unless they both do.

  3. ffi says

    I would not be surprised by all 3 gulf airlines having contacts in OneWorld; QR formally; EY via AirBerlin, while also being close to Skyteam via AF/KL and EK via Qantas.
    EY will not join Star (and has toeholds in both 1W and ST), given the competition with LH. EK might go alone for a while.

  4. says

    As I said in my post earlier, oneworld has always been an alliance that isn’t as “close and tightly packed” as its competing alliances Star and Skyteam. If Qantas was in Star Alliance, you would most certainly not see Qantas aligning with Emirates because Lufthansa would condem it. Qantas has said they would remain in oneworld for the time being, and they are still partnering with BA (albeit on a much smaller scale), LAN, and AA.

    I don’t see much of an issue with the AA-Etihad deal. There already has been discussion of American either partnering with Emirates or Qatar prior to Qatar’s official announcement, so it seems that the Etihad partnership is pretty “light.” In other news today, Etihad and Air France-KLM announced an extensive codeshare relationship (which involves oneworld member Air Berlin). If anything, this Etihad/Air France-KLM deal further puts Air Berlin’s position in oneworld in question (as it always has). Etihad has been less firm in an alliance-stance than Emirates and Qatar, and if there are any more partnerships with other Skyteam airlines, I wouldn’t be surprised if Etihad moves closer to Skyteam. Emirates has a strong stance on remaining free from any alliance.

  5. Pu says

    Why outright lie? It only makes you looks like an idiot when the truth comes out. It’s like quitting your job and say you’re going to do some personal projects when actually you’re going to work for a competitor.

  6. Euro says

    @Pu

    I see it as Qatar’s CEO having 3 options-

    1. Saying yes and announcing it to the world before the official press release itself, defeating the purpose of the press release.

    2. Saying something like “no comment” or something ambivalent which to me is just a weak shroud over a “yes” answer since BA was already praising Qatar and it being a logical link-up since they lost a lot when Qantas decided to partner with Emirates.

    3. Saying no and leave everyone wondering- cements the purpose of the press release since people kept wondering. The CEO wasn’t under oath or anything like that- just answering to journalists. Best way to fend against prereleased information regarding your future strategy- distort the information and have the truth come out when it was meant to…

  7. lucky says

    @ Euro — I disagree. Al-Baker said they are “not considering joining OneWorld” and that “no, we will not” join OneWorld.

    He could have said something along the lines of “we’re always evaluating new partnerships, though have not finalized anything as of now,” which should have been neither a confession or denial. Seems much more reasonable than outright lying.

  8. says

    The reality is that Qatar brings far more to OneWorld than either Qantas or Air Berlin…

    Access to a dozen (with more to come) Indian cities without having to worry about the disaster that is the Indian domestic market or connections through Delhi/Mumbai.

    Access to any number of Asian cities that, while growing, are never going to see direct service from slot constrained airports like LHR and cannot be served via Hong Kong without backtracking.

    A eastbound option from Africa.

    The feed QR delivers to Heathrow is at least equal to QF and still growing – it can only be a matter of time before the same can be said for AA’s gateways.

    Flights through Doha also give LATAM a sensible way to start serving Asia from their multiple focus cities (GIG, GRU, SCL, LIM).

    Against all that, a few million QANTAS frequent fliers isn’t much of a bargaining chip. Primacy at BER, should it ever open, even less so.

  9. Alex says

    I would respectfully disagree that Qantas brings far less to the table to oneWorld than QR… The fact that Qantas comprehensively covers Oceania and south east Asia (albeit a lot with JQ) is a very big deal. That’s a whole continent. While QR would be a big partner, I think Qantas would be a bigger loss.

    However, I might be biased being Aussie…

  10. Alex says

    PS a few million Qantas FFlyers would be a large loss considering how often and for how long us Aussies go on holidays (at any given point in time, roughly 1 million Aussies are overseas, not bad considering we’re a population of ~21mil)

  11. says

    I understand all the arguments about how frequently Aussies travel and how many of you there are, but when it comes to a choice between that and taking even a tiny slice of a billion Indians, to say nothing of cities like Jakarta (26 million) and Manila (22 million), QR is going to win.

    It’s also a stretch to suggest that QF covers SE Asia – connecting in Sydney is hardly a direct routing and it’s rather a tough sell to convince people that they’ll be happy leaving a decent business class product in Singapore to continue their journey aboard one of JetStar’s charabancs.

  12. Alex says

    That is certainly true, but when you consider the amount of traffic that is coming from places like, Indonesia, the Philippines and China headed towards Australia and beyond, not having an airline to cover Oceania would be considerable loss. That leaves no partner airline to fly between North/South America and Australia. I’ll conceded that I’m looking at it from a ‘down under’ perspective, but thats a bit place of the map to lose.

    Would a founding member of the alliance be pushed out too? QF still partners very much so with LAN, AA, BA, JL and soon to be partner MH…

    Best case scenario is in the future EK also join oneWorld (assuming they could work alongside each other), but alas, that is just be a dream.

  13. Troy says

    Emirates has always been anti-alliance based preferring to expand there coverage through direct partnerships – aka with qf.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if in 5 years time we don’t see a new alliance with Emirates and QF being the founding members..!

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