Qatar Airways threatens to quit oneworld alliance over subsidy row

The airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker accuses one of his American partners of blocking its expansion



Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has threatened to quit the oneworld airline alliance as the subsidy row between GCC and US carriers continues to escalate.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association’s annual meeting, Al Baker said: “There is no point in us being in oneworld if an airline that invited us, hosted us in America to sign the entry to oneworld, is today going against us.”

American Airlines, which is part of oneworld, is also one of the three US carriers accusing Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways of receiving government subsidies worth $42bn. While the GCC carriers have denied the allegations, the US airlines have demanded an end to the country’s open skies agreement with the UAE and Qatar.

American Airlines is “impeding our growth,” Al Baker said, adding that the airline was not providing information on its bookings system to allow the proper transfer of passengers.

“We didn’t come begging them [American Airlines] to be in the alliance, we were invited by them,” the BBC quoted him as saying at IATA’s meeting.

“If they don’t honour the commitment of an alliance then we don’t want to be in this alliance.

“And there are many other American carriers that would like to do business with us so actually they are destroying the spirit of alliance,” he added.

Qatar Airways became the first airline from the GCC to carrier to enter an alliance when it joined oneworld in October 2013.

Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways, which has equity stakes and codeshares with a growing number of airlines, has since started it own group called Etihad Airways Partners.

Al Baker told WSJ he would give oneworld representatives time to address the issue. Currently, the alliance includes 16 member airlines.