The Qatar Airways & Oneworld Situation Explained
Qatar Airways have been dominating the media for some time now with firstly their upsizing of an exisiting order to the A350-1000 and now because of cracks forming in their relationship with Oneworld.
What is Oneworld though? Oneworld is an airline alliance which was founded back in 1999, since then it has worked its way up to become one of the leading airline alliances globally. Oneworld is home to a number of airlines including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, Srilankan Airlines and finally most notably Qatar Airways. Oneworld despite having just over 10 airlines is a large alliance. Members of the alliance operate a fleet of some 3,400 aircraft and operate to over 1,000 airports in more than 158. According to current figures, members of the alliance carry a combined total of 527.9 million passengers. However, the relationship between Qatar and Oneworld has been rocky for some time now, with new reports saying that Qatar could withdraw from the alliance. This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen this. In 2016, Qatar Airways said very publicly it may look to break away from the Oneworld alliance should the American Airlines group continue to curb the growth of Gulf rivals. Qatar has also been adamant that members of the alliance should be respectful while also holding a strong business relationship. The Chief executive said in an interview back in 2016 that he won’t tolerate a situation where “conditions are no longer conducive to a fair business relationship and mutual respect,” Qatar believed back then they were being bullied by the alliance and alliance members and that their airline was being targeted on purpose.
In October of 2018 once again the Chief Executive is threatening to pull out of the Oneworld alliance, this time its because he believes partner airlines are being too harsh with their accusations and blocking tactics on Qatar. These accusations have been ongoing since the end of the last year and its become apparent that the Chief Executive and other high ranking officials are sick of the treatment and believe that Oneworld is not doing enough to as he said in 2016 keep the respect there and have all members build a good working relationship. Qatar isn’t the first carrier to voice their displeasure. Multiple other Gulf carriers while not being in Oneworld have also voiced their concern over American carriers accusing them of receiving cash injections from their respective governments.
The Chief Executive said exclusively to Flight global “If Qatar Airways leaves Oneworld it will send a very wrong message to the world about alliances.” Adding “This whole shenanigan has to stop, it has gone too far,” Up until this point there’s been no indication on who he’s been unhappy with, however, it’s been identified the two carriers are Qantas and American Airlines. He believes that these two airlines in particular which are a part of the Oneworld alliance are not behaving like they should and how fellow alliance members are.
Continuing on the Chief Executive of the airline discussed the situation with American Airlines saying “The whole idea behind an alliance is to work together to support each other like a family. But I don’t think that is any more the spirit of the alliance, especially since American Airlines is continuously targeting Qatar Airways, slandering Qatar Airways, giving misinformation to the US government about Qatar Airways. And now it is targeting our investment in Air Italy at very high-level of government interaction, claiming that we are cheating on the open-skies agreement that we signed with the US government.”
With the situation at American Airlines covered, it’s time to switch focus to Australian carrier Qantas. Qatar Airways has made it clear that they are unhappy with the relationship between Emirates and Qantas. They believe that this relationship is blocking Qatar Airways from launching new services in Australia. This has been something that they’ve been eyeing for many years now, however, regulations have prevented them from doing so. As Emirates is a direct rival to Qatar and Qantas a member of the same alliance as Qatar is putting Emirates first it’s no doubt annoying the Doha based carrier. He further went on to say “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?” The frustration is clear from this interview and it’s important to remember that Qatar also is facing political disputes with a number of its close neighbours which has impact operations heavily.
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