At midnight, Qatar Airways will officially become part of the oneworld alliance, a collective of 11 member airlines from across the world, including industry heavyweights American Airlines and British Airways.
Qatar’s national carrier commemorated the occasion today with much fanfare at Hamad International Airport, now due to be open early next year.
Twelve drummers and a group of traditional Qatari musicians were used as part of a carefully stage-managed “reveal” of a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 emblazoned with the oneworld logo.
The event was attended by Qatar’s Prime Minister, a host of international dignitaries and representatives from all of the other oneworld member airlines.
Qatar Airways is the first Gulf airline to join an alliance. At a press conference today, oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby explained that the alliance had “carefully assessed all options in the region when looking for a partner” and concluded that Qatar Airways was the best overall fit.
While acknowledging the obvious commercial benefits of such an alliance, Ashby was keen to emphasize the benefits he believed passengers would appreciate, including the ability to use frequent flyer points on any other oneworld airline, extended lounge access for the higher tiers of cardholders, and the ability to book trips using several airlines on just one ticket.
Airline alliances are not without detractors, however. Some argue that they restrict competition in the market, driving up prices in areas where member airlines operate together.
Two other oneworld airlines currently operate out of Doha International Airport – Royal Jordanian and British Airways.
British Airways flies to London Heathrow daily, while Qatar Airways currently serves the airport five times each day.
When asked about fears that Qatar Airways’ membership of oneworld might lead to increased fares and/or the dropping of British Airways’ London route, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told Doha News that he believed that it would “stay the same, as now passengers can choose to fly with another airline, and still claim their frequent flyer points.”
When asked to respond to complaints from Qatar residents about the high cost of tickets for flights departing from Doha compared to connecting flights, Al Baker told us that “he couldn’t wait to answer the question,” before arguing that the airline’s pricing decisions are standard across the industry:
“Go to any of the my competitor airlines. All airlines are more expensive on direct routes. Direct is dearest – we are not different. Other airlines will always have lower fares than the home network.”
To mark the airline’s oneworld membership, Qatar Airways has announced a promotional offer of double Qmiles for Privilege Club card holders from Nov. 15 to Jan. 31, 2014 (excluding the peak flying period of Dec. 20 to Jan. 5).
Credit: Photos by Brian Candy
Do people really think that a join up like this will not involve a re-alignment of flight schedules? I can see the BA flight to/from LHR being removed if there is deemed to be enough capacity to absorb the passengers into QA flights
When I’ve been on the BA flight, the majority of people are flying to/from Bahrain. I cannot imagine them continuing to fly to Doha.
We have to remember that QA is a business but not a transparent one and they can choose to set tickets at any price they like. They are government owned and as such many companies are forced to use QA as their offical carrier, so they do not really care about competition.
All those shiny news plans and new airport have to be paid for and it can’t all come from QDC.
I don’t see why not. With the prices we pay there I would suspect that the profit levels are pretty high 😉 I’m not sure that QA understand the meaning of ‘competition’