MIAMI — Qatar Airways has received the ‘all clear’ to join oneworld on October 30, 2013; the first of the ‘Gulf Big Three’ carriers to join an alliance.
Oneworld gave Qatar the green light after final reviews were completed via British Airways, whom originally extended the invitation. The acceptance marks one of the fastest approvals into the alliance to date, with the five-star airline having only been invited this time last year. The carrier will join the ranks of American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, JAL, and Qantas among others in serving over 130 cities worldwide.
CEO Akbar Al Baker, speaking via a press release, noted that “In Qatar Airways’ relatively short history, we have quickly established a reputation for innovation, quality and excellence in everything we do. We are pleased to build on that by becoming the only major airline from the Gulf to date to be joining any of the global airline alliances. We are proud to entering the best of them, in oneworld – and to be doing so in record quick time.”
Qatar is also set to pass a few additional milestones around the same time. First, the airline is set to take delivery of their first Airbus A380 soon. The airplane made its maiden flight earlier this week in France.
Qatar is set to take delivery of thirteen of the superjumbo aircraft. The enormous airplane will be utilized initially on the Doha-London route, and will be split into a three class cabin. Looking down the road Qatar is also set to be the launch customer for the Airbus A350, and thus is set to be the carrier in the world to operate both the 787 & A350 simultaneously.
Second, the carrier will be moving to its new base at Hamad International Airport from the old Doha International Airport within the next several weeks. The project, which has been delayed for some time, marks the carriers new hub. It will be located only 5km from the old airport.
The fresh affiliation also marks the first of the so called ‘Gulf Big Three’ carriers to marry into an alliance. The other two, Emirates & Etihad, have only been willing to go so far as code-sharing with other carriers. Both already retain code share relationships within the oneworld family; EK via Qantas, and EY via airberlin. Whether or not Qatar’s new relationship will pressure either to join up with one of several industry alliances is yet unclear. But in an era of safety in numbers for the airline industry, both are likely to find themselves increasingly outnumbered.