Qatar Airways is the first of the major Gulf-based airlines to sign for a global airline alliance, newspapers reported on Tuesday.
“Oneworld is delighted to be the first of the global alliances to welcome a member airline from this region, enabling us to be the first to offer consumers the services and benefits offered by both a global alliance and a Gulf carrier,” UAE-based Gulf News reported Oneworld CEO, Bruce Ashby, as saying.
“The big-three Gulf carriers have been embraced by millions of consumers the world over – just as consumers have embraced global airline alliances. Our own analysis clearly demonstrated that Qatar Airways is the best fit for Oneworld’s network, requirements, philosophy and strategy,” Ashby added.
Qatar airways carried 15 million passengers in 2011, generating up to $6.4 billion in revenues. The Doha- based airline’s integration into Oneworld Alliance is expected to take from 12 to 18 months.
The airline will join the Oneworld group in order to gain market share, as the rising cost of jet fuel and reducing margins are taking their toll on the international airline industry.
“Alliances are playing an increasingly important role in the airline industry today - and that will continue long into the future,” Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar al-Baker, said.
“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,” he added.
Qatar Airways is 50 percent owned by private shareholders and the rest is held by the gas-rich Qatar.
Oneworld members will be able to access markets across the Gulf and wider Arabian Peninsula that the alliance currently does not serve. Qatar airways currently has a network of 120 destinations, covering 70 countries, flown to by a fleet of 111 aircrafts.
The airline is set to move its services to the new Doha International Airport in 2013, an airport designed to strengthen Doha’s position as a key global hub with a planned capacity for 50 million passengers per year.