Qatar Airways’ joining of oneworld – an opportunity for them and a challenge for other alliance members

QATAR AIRWAYS JOINS ONEWORLD ALLIANCE

(Posted 30th October 2013)

Travellers using Qatar Airways from their East African destinations of Entebbe, Kigali, Nairobi, Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam and Addis Ababa will effective today be able to enjoy the benefits of QR having joined the third of the global airline alliances, oneworld. It is thought that following the lukewarm approach by British Airways to the East African market place – they dropped flights to Tanzania earlier this year and more recently also their flights to Lusaka – oneworld will get a visibility boost through Qatar Airways’ membership as few others of their alliance members in fact operate into key airports across the African continent, in particular into sub Saharan Africa.

While aviation pundits are divided over who the greater beneficiary is, most leaning towards the alliance getting the larger boost from the entry of such a quality airline as Qatar Airways has become over the years, passengers loyal to QR will at least enjoy some added benefits with greater connectivity into the destination network of alliance airlines where the Gulf airline is not, or not yet flying directly to.

There is though the perception that some of the other carriers are in terms of inflight and ground handling abilities and qualities a distant second compared to the services passengers are used to from QR, lending credibility to claims that – while Qatar Airways joined in near record time after aligning and harmonizing systems and procedures – it is the other alliance members which now need to strive to attain the higher service levels Qatar Airways is bringing to oneworld, a challenge in particular for the ‘mass production’ airlines like American and British Airways, the latter of the two today being a far cry from the once ‘World’s favourite airline’.

In a media release received from Qatar Airways, some of the immediate benefits to their own frequent flyer programme cardholders have been outlined as follows:

The 3 million members of Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club loyalty programme will from midnight tonight enjoy the full range of oneworld frequent flyer benefits when travelling with anyoneworld member airline worldwide – airberlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and their 30 affiliated airlines.

Privilege members will be able to earn and redeem Qmiles on anyoneworld flight. In celebration of the airline’s addition to the alliance, they will receive double Qmiles award miles when flying on Qatar Airways’oneworld partners between 15 November and 31 January (except between 20 December and 5 January).

Privilege Club members will also receive Qpoints for tier status when flying with all these airlines.

Privilege Club Platinum cardholders will have Emerald status in theoneworld programme. Privilege Club Gold will be equivalent to oneworld Sapphire and Privilege Club Silver will beoneworld Ruby.

From midnight tonight, Privilege Club Platinum and Gold members will be able to access more than 550 airport lounges worldwide offered byoneworld member airlines when they fly with one of the alliance’s carriers – five times more than they can use up until now. Qatar Airways’ First and Business Class passengers will also be able to useoneworld partner airline lounges.

Asoneworld Emeralds, Privilege Club Platinum cardholders will be able to use First Class lounges, where available – and receive an additional baggage allowance and access fast tracks through departure security at select airports.

Also from midnight tonight, the 140 million members of the establishedoneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programmes will be able to earn and redeem awards and tier status points and receive all otheroneworld benefits when flying on Qatar Airways.

To celebrate the addition of the new recruit to oneworld, members of established member airlines’ loyalty programmes will receive double the normal mileage awards when flying on Qatar Airways between 15 November and 31 January (except between 20 December and 5 January).

Meanwhile has Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker commented on his airline’s joining of oneword when he said: ‘Alliances are playing an increasingly important role in the airline industry today – and that will continue long into the future. Becoming a member ofoneworld is one of the most significant landmarks in Qatar Airways’ history. It will strengthen our competitive offering and give our customers what they fully deserve – more choice across a truly global network served together with airline partners who include some of the best and biggest in the world. In Qatar Airways’ relatively short history, we have quickly established a reputation for innovation, quality and excellence in everything we do. We are pleased to build on that by becoming the only major airline from the Gulf to join any of the global airline alliances – and we are proud to become part of what is clearly the world’s top quality airline alliance, oneworld’.

In contrast have the other two major Gulf airlines opted to go their own ways, with Emirates notably relying entirely on their own strengths in the global market place. While cooperating with other airlines, when they see benefits in commercial agreements, they are clearly not interested to become part of any alliance but prefer, and rightly so, to remain purely Emirates, which is set to soon become the world’s largest international airline.

Etihad opted for a different approach, also outside the conventional alliance framework, by making strategic investments in key airlines, among them Air Berlin and Air Seychelles, and seeking close commercial ties and code share partnerships with others where it enhances the market standing for themselves, and those selected for cooperation.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation market.

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