Oneworld gave the official nod to Qatar after the final reviews and checks were completed by the alliance, in conjunction with British Airways, the sponsoring airline. The review process was completed in record time and with the admission date set for approximately one year after the invitation was announced, making it the fastest approval process for a Oneworld airline to date.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “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 date to be joining any of the global airline alliances. We are proud to entering the best of them, in Oneworld – and to be doing so in record quick time. We very much look forward to flying alongside some of the best airlines in the world from 30 October, bringing the heightened benefits offered by Oneworld to our customers.”
With Qatar Airways joining Oneworld, it creates some impressive statistics. As of October 30th, the alliance will service over 130 destinations in 70 countries, with 20 of those destinations being a first-time addition thanks to Qatar. With the hopeful addition of US Airways (after their merger with American Airlines), TAM, and Sri Lankan, the alliance will be one of the strongest out there servicing 1,000 airports with 14,000 daily departures. The alliance will touch 150 countries with a combined fleet of over 3,500 aircraft ranging from small regional jets to A380s.
The announcement also comes at an opportune time, as Qatar Airways’ first Airbus A380 takes to the skies for its maiden flight. Departing Toulouse, France and making its way to Hamburg, Germany, this first A380 (of 13 on order) for Qatar is set to get painted and completed, prior to delivery sometime in March 2014. With a three-class cabin, the aircraft is set to be utilized on routes into slot-constrained airports, such as Paris and London.
As this powerhouse airline continues to grow (Qatar has orders for over 250 new aircraft, including the Airbus A350 as the launch customer) I personally can’t wait. Seeing the Oryx on that giant 24-meter tail just makes me want to get back on-board Qatar. Add on the links to the Oneworld Alliance and points-earning abilities, they could be my middle east carrier of choice for quite some time.