Qatar's departure from the Oneworld alliance could translate into some trickier international flights and connections for travelers on American, British and a dozen other airlines.
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Qatar Airways, a major part of the Oneworld alliance, may be on the verge of leaving if it doesn’t see change.
In remarks late last week, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker suggested that current alliance members weren’t playing fair with the Middle Eastern carrier. American and Qantas, he pointed out, have been in favor of ending Qatar’s open skies agreement with the U.S. despite initially welcoming the carrier into Oneworld.
Qatar’s departure from Oneworld would leave a serious gap in the alliance’s Middle East operations. In the last several years, Qatar has expanded its international routes dramatically, making Doha a great stopping point for travelers en route from North America or Europe to Asia. Without those connections, only Royal Jordanian, a far smaller carrier, would support Oneworld in the Middle East.
If Qatar does actually leave, travelers on Oneworld partners including American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas may see a dramatic shift in how they travel around the world. That means fewer earned miles, a tougher path to elite status qualification and – importantly – no more award redemptions on Qatar’s excellent business class product.
There’s still hope, of course, that Akbar Al Baker’s famously harsh rhetoric will simmer down and the alliance may survive in tact. For now, though, everyone’s walking on thin ice.
Skift’s Dennis Schaal has the full story on Qatar’s continued saber rattling.
— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor
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Skift Business of Loyalty Editor Grant Martin [[email protected]] curates the Skift Business of Loyalty newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Monday.
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Photo credit: Qatar Airways CEO Al Baker, Qatar's PM al-Thani, Minister of Energy and Industry al-Sada and other delegates pose at a ceremony to mark the alliance of Qatar Airways with the oneworld grouping, in Doha 286471