There has been a significant amount of chatter about possible Qantas interest in a middle east carrier. Etihad who are partners with Virgin Australia were not a contendor. Emirates had been a possible favourite but seemed to announce they only wanted a quick codeshare.
Yesterday, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker suggested that they were very interested in a Qantas tie up and would meet with Qantas management in Sydney soon. Qatar was awarded top airline status in 2011. They have been flying into Melbourne from Doha for two years and this week will launch Doha to Perth.
To have Qatar feeding passengers into the Qantas domestic network would be a huge win for Qantas. In addition, Qantas can shift passengers from Australia to Qatar’s 119 destinations. (by contrast, Qantas covers 80 destinations, most in Australia and New Zealand).
Chief executive Al Baker also confirmed that the airline will become a member of either Star Alliance, One World or Skyteam by mid 2013. A tie up with Qantas,of course, tips the balance toward One World but in 2009, the airline said it favoured Star Alliance.
The next question is will the two other Middle Eastern mega carriers join an alliance? Emirates considered Star Alliancein 2000 but decided to remain independent. It has relationships with South African, Thai and United. Etihad owns 30% of Air Berlin (One World), 40% share of Air Seychelles, 3% of Ireland’s Aer Lingus and 4% of Virgin Australia.
Watch this space after Qatar makes their announcement.