There’s been lots of speculation of a Middle East carrier joining the oneworld alliance.
- Etihad is a frequent flyer partner of American, and owns a stake in oneworld carrier Air Berlin
- Qatar’s relationship with United has been terminated, and there’s been some public comment by British Airways’ Chairman about the desirability of a tie-up with Qatar
- Emirates has a new strong relationship with oneworld airline Qantas, though at the expense of the Qantas relationship with British Airways and even Cathay Pacific, my own sense was that Emirates was the least likely to get closer to oneworld overall
The speculation has intensified in the past weeks, and now it’s being predicted that Qatar will join oneworld in an announcement slated for October 8.
Oneworld will hold an event announcing a “significant membership development” on 8 October, coming amidst widely-reported discussions with Qatar Airways about joining the alliance.
The event will be held in New York and includes Bruce Ashby, chief executive of Oneworld, Tom Horton, chairman and chief executive of American Airlines, and Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), according to documents obtained by Flightglobal.
It would be a huge coup to add a Middle Eastern carrier to an alliance, and intensify pressure on the other alliances to court Emirates and Etihad.
Qatar offers excellent premium cabin products, and excellent award availability. Their US – Doha routes have business class as the forward cabin, some European routes still offer a first class.
The Middle East is a natural transit point for travel to Central Asia, such as the Maldives. American award rules won’t permit transit via the Middle East to Africa, however, though it’s as logical a connection point in many cases as Western Europe.