Monday’s Big oneworld Announcement and the Future of the Alliance

A couple of days ago I received an email from the Weber Shadwick PR folks about oneworld’s announcement on Monday in New York. The briefing will be at 2pm with oneworld’s Chairman, Willie Walsh of British Airways and Iberia, and oneworld’s CEO.

On Monday we’ll find out what the oneworld announcement really is, there has been tons of reporting and denials amidst claims of leaked documents.

The smart money has been on Qatar, either joining oneworld outright or creating some sort of alliance with part of oneworld rather than full integration (the recent Qantas-Emirates alliance, and termination of partnership with Qantas and other oneworld carriers on Australia – Europe routes, makes it tough for Qantas to also partner with Qatar).

Although it’s conceivable that it’s something more mundane, full integration for Malaysia Airlines or formal announcement that TAM is leaving Star Alliance for oneworld given its merger with oneworld member LAN.

Via JonNYC, Aviation Week articulates an interesting theory of what’s going on at oneworld.

Increasingly, more of those legacy airlines are recognizing that they will not be able to curtail the growth of Qatar, Etihad and Emirates…

Qatar Airways has been negotiating its admission into Oneworld for months. Oneworld has traditionally had a more relaxed approach toward what members are allowed to do outside of the alliance. But it speaks volumes that it has selected Qatar to strengthen its Asian operation. In a strange way, it is countering the all-but defection of Qantas to Emirates by mirroring the effort…

Admitting Qatar could also be a sign that Oneworld is not sure whether Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways is going to stay for the longterm. And even if it does, the value may be limited: Cathay cannot introduce a joint venture with British Airways on the all-important London route because such an arrangement would never be allowed by the regulatory authorities. On the other hand, Cathay is tied to Air China, a Star Alliance member, through cross-ownership. Even traditionally restrictive Star had to accept this.

My bet — given that Willie Walsh is coming across the pond for the event — is that Monday’s event will involve Qatar after all, and a deep relationship with British Airways (and oneworld sans Qantas).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, any suggestion on the value of keeping a large stash of AA miles or is it time to start using these. Seems like the unholy US Air marriage may be getting closer, and for those of us with large supplies of both AA and US Air miles, should we be doing something with one of the two?

  2. @Robert – I have a 7 figure AA balance. I’m using AND earning. I don’t see a reason to bail on American, but there’s always a reason to use miles now rather than in the future because award charts will get more expensive, not less.

  3. CX leaving 1W has to be a long shot. Air China might be a *A partner, but *A has so much coverage from Asia to North America. Aside from CA, they have NH, SQ, OZ, and a little bit of AC and UA. Heck, there’s even a little TG in there too.

    1W only has CX and a little bit of AA. MH is soon to join, but they don’t have much of a presence in North America.

    If CX leaves 1W, that’s a huge, huge blow to the alliance. CA leaving * for 1W seems more likely.

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