In a signing ceremony in Doha, Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker said oneworld membership is a win for the alliance, for Qatar and for the carrier’s customers.
“We are convinced that the time is right to join a global alliance group and oneworld is clearly the best,” Al Baker said.
Qatar, which is just 16 years old, adds 21 new cities to oneworld, bringing the alliance’s number of destinations to more than 900. It will increase oneworld’s total RPKs by 3.3% and RPKs in the Middle East region by 90%.
British Airways was the sponsor for Qatar’s membership and the induction process was completed within one year, the quickest ever. IAG CEO Willie Walsh said Qatar’s membership was “without question the most significant and positive event in oneworld for a long time.”
Al Baker said that as a young carrier, he wanted to wait and be sure to select the best alliance for Qatar and the alliance for which Qatar could bring the most benefit. “We wanted to be a part of a high-class alliance so when we were invited [to join oneworld] we very quickly accepted and we assured our oneworld partners that we will never fail them,” he said.
Qatar’s membership comes at an interesting time for oneworld and the major Gulf carriers. Qantas, a oneworld founding member, has formed a five-year alliance with Emirates. Airberlin joined oneworld March 2012 and has a strategic alliance with Etihad, which has a 29% stake in the German carrier.
Oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby said Tuesday that one of the reasons the alliance is now growing so fast is because it does not believe in preventing its members from forging their own bilateral relationships. “Oneworld has adopted a flexible approach to bilateral relationships,” he said. “We believe that an alliance that prevents its customers from doing what’s best for their business should go the way of the dinosaur.”
Ashby added, “Qantas is very much a member of oneworld and will continue to be so.”
The signing ceremonies were held at Doha’s new $15.5 billion Hamad International Airport, which has capacity for 28 million passengers a year and an approved plan to grow that to 50 million.
Although the airport looks ready for service, an opening date has not yet been given.
(Karen Walker - ATWOnline News)