Qatar Airways To Join Oneworld

Qatar Airways has confirmed speculation that it is to join one of the global airline alliances, with an announcement of its upcoming entry into Oneworld at a press conference in New York yesterday afternoon. The Doha-based carrier’s Chief Executive Officer Akbar al Baker joined his counterparts from American Airlines and British Airways parent International Airlines Group, as well as senior executives from the Oneworld member airlines to mark the occasion that kickstarts its membership process.

Named “Airline of the Year” by independent industry rating agency Skytrax for the past 2 years, the airline is taking a different strategy from rivals Emirates and Etihad Airways by becoming the first of the 3 major Gulf carriers to align itself with an alliance. The move is set to bolster its position in the highly-competitive Middle Eastern market by opening up bilateral and multilateral links between Qatar Airways and Oneworld member airlines.

Upon full integration into Oneworld, Qatar Airways’ passengers will gain access to the alliance’s global network and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits. The airline’s presence in Northeast Asia and Australia will be enhanced through partners Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Qantas, who have long maintained Oneworld’s foothold.

From the upcoming New Doha International Airport (which the carrier will move into in 2013 and give Oneworld a strong hub in the Middle East), Qatar Airways’ extensive African connections give the alliance an inroad into a market dominated by rivals Star Alliance and Skyteam. 15 new cities in Iran, Rwanda and the Seychelles will be added to the Oneworld map, complementing regional services from Amman currently offered by member-airline Royal Jordanian.

Qatar Airways is expected to officially become a member of Oneworld within 12 to 18 months. Launched in 1997, it has established itself as one of the world’s fastest growing airlines and currently operates a fleet of 111 aircraft to 120 destinations in 70 countries.

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