Qatar Airways is to join oneworld in a major coup for the award winning airline alliance.
The decision adds one of the world’s fastest growing and most highly rated airlines to the world’s leading quality airline alliance.
Its election as a oneworld member designate was announced today at a press conference in New York - home of oneworld’s central alliance management office - with senior executives of Qatar Airways and the alliance’s established member airlines in attendance.
Qatar Airways, named the World’s Leading Airline Business Class by the prestigious World Travel Awards, is the first of the three major airlines based in the Gulf to sign for any of the global airline alliances.
It is also the second largest full service airline in the world not, until today, aligned to one of big global airline alliances.
The Doha-based airline’s implementation into oneworld is expected to take between 12 and 18 months.
The carrier is set to move into a brand new home in 2013 with the opening of the New Doha International Airport, designed to strengthen its position as a premium global hub with an eventual capacity for 50 million passengers a year.
As a member of oneworld, Qatar Airways will fly alongside some of the biggest and best brands in the airline business.
Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker celebrates in New York
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “Alliances are playing an increasingly important role in the airline industry today - and that will continue long into the future.
“Qatar Airways has carefully reviewed its strategic options and it is very clear that joining oneworld is by far the best way forward for us as we look to strengthen our competitive offering and give passengers what they fully deserve - more choice.
“Like Qatar Airways, oneworld is focused on quality and providing the best connections between the places most important to today’s frequent international travellers.”
British Airways will serve as its sponsor in joining oneworld, supported by the central oneworld alliance team, mentoring the recruit through its alliance implementation programme.
Qatar Airways will be oneworld’s second member airline based in the Middle East, alongside Royal Jordanian, which became the first airline from the region to join any of the global alliances when it boarded oneworld in 2007.
Qatar Airways’ network serves 120 destinations in 70 countries in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia and Australasia, including oneworld hubs Amman, Berlin Tegel, Buenos Aires Ezeiza, Hong Kong, London Heathrow, Madrid, Melbourne, Moscow Domodedovo, New York JFK, Osaka Kansai, Sydney, Tokyo Narita, and the Kuala Lumpur home of oneworld member elect Malaysia Airlines.
International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh, left, congratulates Qatar Airways chief Al Baker at the ceremony earlier
Fifteen of its destinations and three countries - Iran, Rwanda and the Seychelles - will be new to the oneworld map.
More significantly, Qatar Airways will substantially strengthen oneworld’s customer offering by providing superior routing alternatives across many hundreds of city pairs.
For example, passengers flying between Asia and Southern Europe or between Asia and Africa will now have convenient one-stop connections not previously available within the oneworld network.
Qatar Airways operates one of the world’s youngest and most modern fleets, currently standing at 111 Boeing and Airbus aircraft with an average age of just four years old.
Its addition will increase oneworld’s global coverage to 856 destinations in 159 countries, served by a combined fleet of 2,600 aircraft operating more than 9,300 flights and carrying almost a million passengers every day (342 million a year), generating annual revenues of nearly US$ 120 billion.
Qatar Airways already code-shares with oneworld member designate Malaysia Airlines. It will develop bilateral links with more airlines in the alliance as it moves towards becoming a member of the group.
oneworld is viewed as the World’s Leading Airline Alliance by the World Travel Awards.