Several comments given recently by Qatar CEO Akbar al Baker have given the impression that Qatar is considering leaving the One World Alliance. This is following claims that alliance partners American Airlines and Qantas are acting in a spirit which is not what would be expected of alliance partners. Mr al Baker has also hinted that the airline may become privatised within the next decade. Currently, Qatar Airways is owned by the government of Qatar. This has led to a string of accusations from the three biggest traditional US carriers that the airline is accepting unfair government subsidies.
In the world of flag carrier airlines, Qatar is actually quite young. The airline was founded in late 1993, commencing operations in early 1994. In November the airline will be 25 years old, and will undoubtedly have a rather large celebration. The last 25 years have seen Qatar achieve a lot. Back in 1994, the airline had 75 members of staff and two A310s. Fast forward and the airline employs over 43,000 and serves over 150 destinations with a fleet of 220 aircraft. The airline was the launch customer of both models of the A350 and recently upgraded its expected A350-900 aircraft to A350-1000s.
What Has al Baker Said?
Mr al Baker has reportedly issued an ultimatum to the One World Alliance, stating that fair play between members should be enforced. He specifically accused American Airlines of being unsupportive. If the ultimatum is not met, Qatar would leave the alliance. There is currently no known date that the ultimatum will expire.
Speaking to the press, Mr al Baker accused its partners of spreading rumours. He made his comments to the US media in New York on Thursday, saying: “We are waiting to see what will be the outcome of the ultimatum we have given to the Oneworld administration. We have told them that we are constantly being targeted by a Oneworld partner. Alliance means interlining with each other, letting passengers use each other’s lounges, to be able to earn and burn miles on each other, to support each other. This is not happening from the American Airlines side. On the contrary, rumours have been constantly spread. The US government is being approached with lame excuses to restrict our investments, our growth. So what is the point?”.
One World Reaction
One World’s VP of Corporate Affairs, Michael Blunt, was quick to address Mr al Baker’s comments. In a statement, he said: “We are of course aware of these latest comments that have been reported in the media. As in any family, there are differences of opinion from time-to-time between individual members of the alliance. We always hope that they can be resolved quickly so all parties can come together to focus on the key issue for us all — providing great service for our customers all around the world.”
A spokesperson for American Airlines went on to add to Mr Blunt’s comments, saying: “American Airlines is a founding member of Oneworld, and we hope the alliance’s membership remains intact.”
We will have to wait to see what comes of Mr al Baker’s comments and whether the airline will add a date to its ultimatum. Leaving One World would be a huge step for Qatar, and would also mean that many of One World’s European travellers are significantly disadvantaged. Do you think Qatar will act on its ultimatum? Let us know below!