As it turns out Qatar Airways will be joining OneWorld, despite their CEO, al-Baker, being quoted as saying:
Baker also said Qatar was not preparing to join the oneworld alliance after sources close to the airline group said that next week it would become the first Gulf carrier to join.
“Qatar Airways is not considering joining oneworld at this time,” Baker said.
Qatar Airways has no plans to join the oneworld airline alliance, its Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said on Sunday, dismissing reports that the airline had become the newest member of the group as “rumor.”
Asked if the carrier would join oneworld, which includes British Airways, owned by IAG, Baker said: “No, we will not. It’s all rumors.”
I can understand the CEO not wanting to confirm the announcement in advance, but outright denying it seems over the top. Anyway, it’s supposed to be 12-18 months before the integration is complete.
When I first heard the speculation I shared my thoughts on why I thought this wasn’t a good fit, and I stand by it. While Qatar is a great airline, this will cause serious friction with Qantas (which has a huge joint venture with Emirates), American (which has a partnership with Etihad), and Air Berlin (which is partly owned by Etihad). With all three airlines I suspect this will either lead to the airlines dropping their current partners or dropping OneWorld altogether. I’d say American will likely terminate their relationship with Etihad eventually, Qantas may eventually be forced to terminate their membership in OneWorld, and Air Berlin may also eventually terminate their relationship with OneWorld. That’s all speculation at this point, though, and it’ll be interesting to see what actually happens.