Following a London appearance by Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways CEO, it looks as though Qatar may have settled its differences with other OneWorld Member CEOs. Toward the end of 2018, the airline made repeated threats to leave the alliance following allegations of other airlines being unsupportive.
Qatar had threatened to leave the 13 airline alliance after a disagreement with both American Airlines and Australian Airline Qantas. However, the mood yesterday couldn’t have been more different, with Al Baker appearing friendly with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
The Story So Far?
In November Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker has been threatening to leave OneWorld. In fact, as recently as mid-January, he threatened to miss the key meeting between OneWorld CEOs. The reason? Disagreements with both Qantas and American Airlines.
Al Baker has accused both airlines of targeting his airline by acting unlike an alliance partner should. In the case of American Airlines, the carrier has reportedly made claims to the US Government about Qatar. The claims include breaching the open skies agreement held with the US by expanding Air Italy.
Things are slightly different regarding Qantas. Qatar is currently looking to expand into Australia, something that Qantas is apparently blocking. Al Baker previously said: “[Qantas] is blocking us getting rights into Australia. So what is the point of us being in this alliance if it is only in the interest of a few and the interest of the rest is compromised?”
When the floor at yesterday’s press conference was opened to questions from the journalists, everybody was expecting the first question. When asked about remaining in the alliance, Al Baker told us: “I am here today, so we can see we are all together as a team, and we will be here as long as we can speak together and see if we can resolve the differences we have and only after that will we decide what to do.”
While not making any reference to whether the differences were close to being resolved, it was Al Baker’s behaviour that perhaps revealed more than anything else. Members of the press were warned that some airline CEOs may have to leave early due to busy schedules. One of these individuals was Al Baker who left while the questions were ongoing.
He obviously couldn’t say goodbye to all of his colleagues without disrupting the press conference. However, he picked out Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. Having previously called out Qantas as a reason for leaving, this friendly gesture could indicate that the ice is thawing between the two carriers. Additionally, he had a very busy schedule in Qatar today. It is questionable as to whether Al Baker would have attended the conference if he had no intention to stay in the alliance.
Do you think Qatar will remain in OneWorld? Let us know in the comments down below!