The drama of Middle Eastern airlines and will they or won’t they join alliances heats up some more.
- Emirates was a partner of United and Continental. That partnership ended, and my sense is that wasn’t Emirates’ doing. They’ve wanted US partners (and have developed JetBlue and Alaska relationships).
- I expected that they would link up with American. I believe they had discussions with American. Instead, American developed a relationship with Etihad.
- Etihad bought into oneworld carrier Air Berlin. It seemed like Etihad would join oneworld.
- Then Emirates entered into a joint business venture with oneworld carrier Qantas.
- While Qatar agreed to join oneworld.
- And Etihad began getting close to Skyteam airlines. Did that signal that Etihad could join Skyteam.. and even bring Air Berlin with it?
Now word is that Etihad will be invited to join oneworld, or at least it’s being reported that American Airlines CEO says so.
“We have an important presence in the Indian sub-continent through member carriers such as Qatar Airways and Sri Lankan Airlines flying into India,” he said, adding that Etihad Airways is also being extended an invitation to join the alliance.
Strictly speaking oneworld inviting them could have been misinterpreted as oneworld pursuing them and no doubt other alliances are as well.
It’s hard to imagine a formal invitation being extended to an airline that hasn’t already indicated a willingness to accept.
And it’s hard to imagine pending entrant Qatar joining oneworld and being happy about an invitation being offered to Etihad as well. If this were to happen, Qantas would be in partnership with all three of the major Gulf carriers.
But it seems unlikely. Either the report is off, or it’s accurate and there’s uncertainty about whether Qatar will really join oneworld.
The carriers are big deals for alliances, with the Middle East being great connecting points to much of the much and offering generally high quality products. From a mileage redemption standpoint they’re among the most desirable carriers as well.
Which leads me to wonder, where is Star in all of this?