QATAR Airways is to join oneworld, becoming the first of the three major Gulf carriers to sign for a global airline alliance.
Qatar Airways CEO, 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 clear that joining oneworld is the best way forward for us as we look to strengthen our competitive offering and give passengers more choice.”
British Airways will serve as Qatar Airways’ sponsor during its implementation into the alliance, a process that is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.
The Doha-based carrier will become oneworld’s second member airline based in the Middle East. Royal Jordanian was the first carrier from the region to join a global alliance when it boarded oneworld in 2007.
Qatar Airways’ addition will plug 15 destinations and three countries – Iran, Rwanda and the Seychelles – into the oneworld map, boosting the alliance’s global coverage to 856 destinations in 159 countries and provide routing alternatives across hundreds of city pairs.
Qatar Airways already codeshares with oneworld member designate Malaysia Airlines. Two oneworld member airlines currently serve its Doha home – British Airways from its London hub, and Royal Jordanian from its Amman base – along with member elect SriLankan, from its Colombo hub.
American Airlines’ chairman and chief executive, Tom Horton, chairman of the oneworld governing board, said: “Adding Qatar Airways will significantly improve our connectivity between many of the destinations that are most important to (our) customers, so (the) agreement with Qatar Airways will enable us to offer even more value.”
oneworld CEO, Bruce Ashby, added: “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.”