Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker told members of the media Oct. 18 in New York that its oneworld membership is in question and the Doha-based carrier could leave the alliance in 2019.
Even though he stressed the importance of the airline’s position in oneworld—describing it as one of the most important tools for collective action in serving customer needs—he suggested some alliance members, especially the US Big Three carriers—Dallas/Fort Worth-based American Airlines, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Chicago-based United Airlines—were not on good terms with the Middle Eastern carrier.
“In June 2013, we joined the oneworld [alliance]. We were invited by American Airlines and [UK-based] British Airways together. Unfortunately, the same airline that invited us is now talking against Qatar Airways,” Al Baker said at the media briefing.
Al Baker added there are a lot of bad feelings with the three US airlines, despite Qatar’s agreement not to exercise fifth freedom flights into the US.
Al Baker said that while one of the principal purposes of an alliance is for members to feed passengers to each other, Qatar is now getting more passengers from non-oneworld airlines.
He said he could see Qatar withdrawing from oneworld, possibly next year, and said the carrier would privatize in the next decade.
“As in most families, there are times where members of our alliance have differences on specific points from time to time. We hope these can be resolved quickly so the carriers can focus on providing great service to our customers,” oneworld VP-corporate affairs Michael Blunt told ATW.
In an Oct. 20 statement, Al Baker further emphasized how the beneficial exchange of culture and commerce made possible by the US-Qatar Open Skies agreement must not be blocked merely because of Qatar Airways’ decision to serve markets that others have ignored.
Qatar operates a fleet of more than 200 aircraft to over 150 destinations.