International Airline Group, the owners of BA and Iberia (IAG) is planning to induct Qatar Airways in the Oneworld alliance this year.
IAG chief Willie Walsh said he admired what Qatar has achieved during an interview at an industry conference in Barcelona, according to a report in Arabian Business.com. “The combination of what CEO Al Baker has done with the airline and what Qatar has done with the new airport at Doha makes it very interesting,” Walsh said.
“The industry has matured to a point where we’ll see Mideast carriers join the alliances this year,” Walsh said at the event. “Within Oneworld, we’ve been debating it. To my mind, they’re key players in the industry.” While Emirates would probably not join any one of the international alliance because its network was big enough and had no need for partners, Walsh pointed out that Qatar and Etihad Airways were more likely to join one of the alliances.
Etihad in an emailed statement to Bloomberg said that it never commented “on speculation of this nature, except to say that we talk regularly and frequently to many airlines and a range of other businesses from all over the world about issues and opportunities”, while Qatar did not respond to a request for comment.