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October 1, 2012 / oneworld82

Rumor of the day: Qatar Airways to join oneworld

According to the Financial Times – not your general tabloid – Qatar Airways is about to join oneworld. Will it be true?

Qatar Airways is a very likely candidate to join OW for a number of reasons. First of all, it has been rumored for months. Secondly, its status as a 5-star airline fits oneworld pretty well – they would now have 3 out of 6 5-star Skytrax airlines (QR, MH, CX with Hainan Airlines rumored to wanting to join in, CX permitting).

Now let’s look at some reasons why QR would want to join oneworld: access to an extensive US and European/Asian/South American network.

Furthermore, this trend of linking up with other airlines and alliances is going to apply to all the MO3 carriers (Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Emirates), for a specific reason: their strategic location is simply perfect. There is basically no inhabited spot on Earth that cannot be reached from the Gulf, and of course many airlines are eager to take advantage of this. This means that MO3s can either decide to join an alliance and share their location MAINLY (but not exclusively) with one partner only; or they can stay independent and sign “ad hoc” agreements with various airlines.

Take Etihad Airways for instance: they are reaching a code-share agreemnt with Air France/KLM similar to what Qantas reached with Emirates; yet they have extensive codeshare with American Airlines and own a considerable stake in Virgin Australia and Air Berlin (plus Air Seychelles). Will they join any alliance? Well, it seems unlikely.

And what about Emirates? It reached an agreement wit Qantas and Tim Cook (EK CEO) said they are on about to sign a codeshare agreement with AA. They also have similar agreements in place with JL. Does this mean it will join oneword? Not necessarily, as they can go on and sign better, more aligned deals with other European airlines interested in codesharing with them.

While QR decided to join oneworld is a bit more puzzling, yet I am sure its management did the math: of course the carrier that will be most benefited from this agreement are BA (which can transfer more easily passengers to more Asian destinations) and IB, which has no Asia network whatsoever. And do not forget LATAM, as QR reach extends to South America. Also, East Asian members are likely to benefit from this, as they can seamlessly connect passengers to fast-growing African and South American destinations.

So, what does this mean to the airline industry? Well, nothing and a lot. It’s certainly not the end of alliances, but it’s the beginning of more point-to-point (let’s call them that way) agreements that can close those gaps that airline alliances naturally have.

To me, this is a huge victory for oneworld. They now have – in a way or another – deals with all MO3 carriers. As the only alliance that always focused on premium business customers, all these deals make a lot of sense and they represent a HUGE vistory against Star Alliance and SkyTeam. What the future holds we do not know, but it seems clear that at the oq office in New York they have done their numbers right.

P.S.
– I think Philippines Airlines would be a terrific addition to oneworld. Very much like Garuda, the airline has freshen itself up and started from scratch in a great way. I flew them twice recently, and their product is definitely competitive; the new airplanes make us think of a big international expansion toward the Americas and Europe – it’s definitely a worthy trophy.

P.P.S.
– I can bet whatever you like that LATAM will join oneworld. No reason to chose Star when they can partner with AA and be the number 1-by-far carrier in South America.

P.P.P.S.
– I hope AA doesn’t severe its ties with EY because I REALLY want to try EY First Class product

P.P.P.P.S.

– I jotted down this article in 15 minutes. Please forgive any logical inconsistency…

One Comment

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