EDIT: There was piece on the Arabian Business today that Mr. Akbar al-Baker had stated that the airline is not joining Oneworld. It is very interesting to see what this Oneworld announcement on October 8th is going to be about.
There was a piece earlier this week on the FlighGlobal website about an announcement on October 8th about a “significant membership development” by Oneworld. It is widely expected that this would mean Qatar Airways would joining the alliance.
It has been reported previously that Mr. Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, the parent of British Airways and Iberia both Oneworld alliance members, and Mr. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, have been getting along rather well. Both are members of the IATA board of governors.
This development wouldn’t be totally unexpected. There are three major carriers on the Middle East; Emirates of Dubai, Etihad of Abu Dhabi, and Qatar of Doha. Emirates has been very vocal of not joining and alliance while Qatar has always been silent about this issue. Etihad has formed ties with number of airlines outside of an alliance.
In my personal opinion, Qatar has always been more tilted towards the Star Alliance considering the frequent flier partners that they have and have had. Qatar is partner with ANA, Asiana, & US Airways of Star Alliance. The partnership with United was discontinued earlier this year. They currently don’t have any program ties with Oneworld alliance carriers.
Emirates and Qantas just formed their outside of an alliance partnership for the European traffic that is launching next year. Qantas will tunnel their European traffic via Dubai instead of Singapore/Bangkok/Hong Kong. Emirates is also in discussions with American Airlines regarding a codeshare agreement.
I would love to see Qatar Airways joining an alliance. Based on the chatter, it seems likely that the choice is Oneworld. We will learn more about this Oneworld alliance’s membership development on October 8.