So I guess when Qatar’s CEO emphatically denied that they were joining oneworld less than 10 days ago — “No, we will not. It’s all rumors” — that he was just lying.
The airline will be integrated into the alliance over the next 12 to 18 months.
Great news for the value of American Airlines miles, Qatar offers great business class award availability (and has first class cabins on a limited number of Europe – Doha routes) and an outstanding business class product.
Sadly within American’s program the Middle East — an amazing connection point for much of the world — is of limited usefulness. You can connect in Doha if you want to head to India and surrounding countries, or to the Middle East itself. But you’re not able to fly on to Northwest Africa without spending additional miles, nor can you connect in the Middle East enroute to Asia.
My predictions, I’m willing to put them here on the page so that I can be proven wrong, but I believe that:
- British Airways will develop a joint venture with Qatar, possibly even between Europe and Australia (having just lost their arrangement with Qantas)
- Air Berlin — owned nearly 30% by Etihad and entering into a strategic deal with Skyteam’s Air France KLM — will eventually leave oneworld.
- There’s a non-zero chance that Etihad will eventually join Skyteam, and American will lose its frequent flyer relationship there as well.