Qatar Airways CEO Threatens To Leave Oneworld Amid Feud With American Airlines Over Investment Plans

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Akbar Al Baker, the outspoken CEO of Qatar Airways has announced that the airline could make an abrupt exit from the oneWorld alliance due to ongoing animosities between American Airlines and that Qatar based carrier.

Qatar Airways has long been interested in pursuing a substantial investment in American Airlines but AA rebuffed QR’s aspirations of acquiring a 10% stake.

American Airlines has also cancelled their codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways, a move which is rare between alliance partners, citing colliding business interests.

All major U.S. carriers have been lobbying for years against the ME3 Gulf Carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways accusing them of dumping cheap seats on the market while being heavily subsidized by their respective governments and therefore not creating a true competitive environment.

CNBC (access here) reported that Mr. Al Baker isn’t all too happy and again threatened that the carrier could exit oneWorld abruptly.

Qatar Airways, a longtime foe of the biggest U.S. carriers, is still considering an investment in an airline in the United States, CEO Akbar Al Baker told reporters at an event in New York on Thursday.

Qatar Airways in the summer of 2017 surprisingly expressed intent to buy up to 10 percent of American Airlines, a move that was rebuffed by the Fort Worth-based airline. …

The Middle Eastern airlines agreed earlier this year to make financial statements public to quiet the conflict, but the agreement stopped short of forcing the foreign carriers to cut flights.

Tensions continue over the issue, despite the agreements. Al Baker said he is considering pulling out of the Oneworld alliance. …

American Airlines announced it was ending its code-sharing agreement with Qatar Airways in March and a similar agreement with Etihad, saying “relationships between American and these carriers no longer make sense for us.”

Al Baker accused American of creating a “bad feeling” and said the Qatar government can invest in its state-owned airline. He said he expects to make a decision “soon.”

“As in any family, there are differences of opinion from time to time between individual members of the alliance,” said Michael Blunt, a spokesman for Oneworld. “We always hope that they can be resolved quickly so all parties can come together to focus on the key issue for us all — providing great service for our customers all around the world.”

Mr. Al Baker currently the IATA Board of Governors as we reported in an earlier article which certainly makes him a more visible and slightly more influential airline CEO compared to the competitors.

Al Baker has always been outspoken about certain issues, even controversial when I remember the “U.S. crap airlines that employ grandmothers” comments.

Of course the company can decide it’s own investment strategy and as long as it complies with U.S. regulations even pursue a larger investment. A 10% stake in American (AMR) is unlikely to happen though.

Conclusion

Leaving oneWorld would be a blow for the alliance even though the carrier isn’t really contributing much in terms of benefits for the members apart from having award availability. The airline is known for carving out special lounge access rules at their Doha hub for Sapphire and Emerald members in Economy Class who are delegated into a rather subpar “Business- and First Class Lounge” which isn’t the carriers real lounge they use for C/F passengers.

They do have one of the best Business Class products nowadays (very little First) and their fares are often extremely low so yes, it’s a good way to collect miles and tier points especially since any ticket pretty much involves 4 sectors but Qatar exiting oneWorld wouldn’t really be a back breaker for the alliance or customers. I’m surprised that with all other problems Qatar as a country has on hand right now they’re bullish in this regard. Personally I think this is hot air and nothing else.

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