oneworld CEO Make an “Impassioned Plea” for Qatar Airways to Stay in the Alliance

Two months ago Qatar Airways threatened to leave the oneworld alliance, a threat that their CEO Akbar al-Baker has repeated several times.

Qatar Airways’ public position is that partner airlines shouldn’t be attacking them. My bet, though, was that the Gulf carrier would ultimately want to see itself as a part of a global alliance, that they would not want to go it alone for reasons that are only partially related to the airline.

With the nation of Qatar facing a blockade by Saudi Arabia and the UAE they’ve worked hard to build ties to the rest of the world and won’t take steps to isolate themselves.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker with Donald and Melania Trump in 2007, via Doha News

And oneworld makes far more sense for Qatar than changing alliances, switching costs aside, because they hold significant ownership stakes in oneworld members British Airways, Iberia, LATAM, and Cathay Pacific. Indeed, they are the largest owner of British Airways and Iberia parent IAG.

oneworld CEO Rob Gurney reported made an “impassioned plea” for Qatar Airways to stay in the alliance. While underscoring that the decision is Qatar’s and that the alliance will be fine, and customers taken care of either way, he’s given interviews in which he takes on the role of peacemaker. Such entreaties allow Akbar al-Baker to save face if indeed he needs the airline to remain in oneworld.

Gurney praised the Gulf carrier as a “terrific airline” but he made an impassioned plea for its member to stay.

“We think the alliance adds a lot of value to them. They add a lot of value to the alliance. We don’t want them to leave, but at the end of the day, this has got to work for them; it has got to work for everybody,” he said.

Gurney said, “We want them to stay.”

Qatar’s CEO did not attend the alliance’s annual meeting in New York where their existing partner Royal Air Maroc announced its pending entry into oneworld. Any exit would logically have been announced at that meeting, though Qatar has mentioned a Christmas deadline for a decision.

Credit: Qatar Airways

The Doha-based airline provides strong feed into India and Pakistan for those oneworld partners smart enough to benefit from it. And they frequently offer great value business class fares with the world’s best business class product (Qsuites) which you can even redeem partner miles for.

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. Gurney doesn’t need to plead with QR, he needs to get AA to shut their lying trap and stop acting like a spoiled baby.

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