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Mon 2 Jun 2014 11:16 AM

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Oneworld rules out any more Gulf members

CEO says its unlikely UAE carriers Emirates or Etihad will join alliance which already includes Qatar Airways

Oneworld rules out any more Gulf members

The CEO of global airline alliance Oneworld has all but ruled out accepting another Gulf carrier after the recent membership of Qatar Airways, saying the group is not "greedy".

Speaking to Arabian Business on the sidelines of the International Air Travel Association (IATA) annual general meeting in Doha, Bruce Ashby said he did not think the alliance needed any more Middle East partners, with Royal Jordanian also a member.

"We're not greedy, I don't think we need to go and take a lot more but I think we're open to almost anything that adds value to the alliance," he said.

Ashby particularly watered down any prospect of the region's other two major carriers, Dubai's Emirates Airline and Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, joining the alliance.

"I would say probably not," he said.

"Once you have a footprint in a region it's not probably necessary to keep adding airlines on top of the ones that are already there."

Etihad has forged it's own alliance style, buying up strategic stakes in other airlines, including several that are members of Oneworld competitor, SkyTeam. Although it also part-owns Air Berlin, a Oneworld member.

Emirates last year launched an historic partnership with Australia's Qantas.

Ashby said Qatar Airways' membership to Oneworld filled a missing piece to the alliance's global network puzzle.

"Their network is very highly complimentary to the existing airlines in Oneworld," he told Arabian Business.

"They act as a great consolidation point to not only the Middle East, (but also) India, the sub-continent, parts of Asia if you're coming from the other direction. So it filled out all sorts of points in our network where we didn't have a lot if membership presence already.

"(It was) a perfect fit for the global network."

During a presentation at the IATA AGM Ashby said the alliance had experienced it's largest expansion in history in the past two months.

"That expansion has significantly strengthened us," he said.

The alliance now serves 1000 airports in 150 countries.

It had increased it's daily flights by 76 percent to 14,000, and doubled passenger numbers.

Oneworld recently overtook SkyTeam as the largest global airline alliance.

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