Despite vocal assurances by Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker earlier this autumn that his airline would leave Oneworld, the Gulf carrier’s departure from this group has not yet happened. Speaking to the South China Morning Post, the alliance’s CEO states that he would like the airline to stay in the group.
Despite vocal assurances made by CEO Akbar Al Baker earlier this autumn, Qatar Airways hasn’t yet officially followed through on its threat to depart Oneworld, the South China Morning Post reports. While the alliance is ready for the Gulf carrier’s departure, it seems that Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney is working hard to convince them to remain with the group.
Offering his comments in an exclusive interview with the outlet, Gurney described Qatar as a “terrific airline” and went on to say that, “We think the alliance adds a lot of value to them. They add a lot of value to the alliance. We don’t want them to leave, but at the end of the day, this has got to work for them; it has got to work for everybody.”
The outlet also reports that Qatar had said that it would be leaving Oneworld before Christmas. Official notification of any departure, however, hasn’t happened and as of Oneworld’s board meeting earlier this month, the airline was still a member of the alliance.
Gurney also offered comments on how Oneworld would handle Qatar’s proposed departure. “We have had experiences of airlines leaving the alliance … we have a well-established process of how we handle these situations. We wait for them to occur but we can initiate them very quickly and the biggest focus is to make sure the customer is protected,” he said.
While the rift between Oneworld and Qatar looms large, Gurney also took the time to speak of a decent-sized expansion of the alliance. Royal Air Maroc is set to join the alliance in 2020, as possibly is China Southern Airlines.
Oneworld is also adding regional carriers, with both Fiji Airways and Cathay Pacific coming into the fold. The outlet also reports that Alaska Airlines may also be joining the grouping via this regional initiative.
Commenting on the current situation at the alliance, Gurney told the outlet, “I don’t think we are in an enormous growth spurt but there are enough candidates and prospects up there for us.”