Qatar Airways is first Gulf carrier to join global alliance

Doha-based carrier ties up with Oneworld, a day after Etihad’s codeshare link with Air France-KLM
Qatar Airways is first Gulf carrier to join global alliance
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker.
By Claire Valdini
Tue 09 Oct 2012 11:18 AM

Qatar Airways, the Middle East’s second-largest carrier, will join the Oneworld global marketing alliance as it looks to expand its global network, the airline has said.

The announcement came hours after Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said it had signed a codeshare agreement with Air France-KLM as part of the first phase of a larger strategic partnership.

“Alliances are playing an increasingly important role in the airline industry today – and that will continue long into the future,” Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, said in a statement.

Qatar Airways is the first of the three Gulf carriers to sign up for a global airline alliance, which allows airlines to coordinate routes and offers passengers a greater number of routes around the world.

Airline alliances, formed in the mid-1990s, offer passengers easier connections and enables them to earn frequent flier miles with the partners. Frequent flyers are also given access to business lounges at more airports as well as speedier check-in and boarding.

The Oneworld alliance, which competes with Star Alliance and SkyTeam, has eleven other carriers within its network including American Airlines and British Airways.

The move will enable Qatar Airways to expand its international presence in new markets, said Saj Ahmad, analyst at StrategicAero Research.com.

“Qatar Airways’ continued international growth allows them to leverage their alliance partnerships to great effect. Markets where it has limited presence, such as Latin America, become that much more accessible for them viaIberia.

“With Qatar Airways now part of the alliance, it goes without saying that they are, without shadow of a doubt, the single most strongest entity in that alliance ahead of any other member. This is a coup for the Oneworld alliance,” he added.

Etihad on Monday said it would begin a codeshare agreement with Air France-KLM on Oct 28, a move that will see both airlines offer joint codes on destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier, which owns stakes in Virgin Australia, airberlin and Air Seychelles, said its partnerships “are delivering a major source of revenue growth” for the airline.

“This year to date, they are providing 18 percent of our revenues and will be a major contributor to our sustained profitability growth this year and into the future,” said James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad Airways.

The deals with Gulf carriers signify a major turning point for traditional airlines, which have criticised their Middle East carriers’ aggressive expansion plans and tried unsuccessfully tried to fend them off and block their expansion in Europe.

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