Qatar Airways could be carrying Qantas passengers on its Boeing 787 Kangaroo Route from Perth to London by the end of this year, says oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby.
While oneworld membership typically takes 12 to 18 months to eventuate, following an airline’s recognition as a “member designate”, Ashby tells Australian Business Traveller that that Qatar is “closer to the 12-month spectrum, based on being already well-equipped technologically.”
“I expect both Qatar and SriLankan Airlines to be online about a year from now, but it could be a month or two either way, so later this year or early next year... those things are very hard to predict in advance.”
“For example, good technology gets an airline ahead of the curve but part of this is coordinating your testing with a dozen other people” Ashby explains.
“Even if you’re all ready to go and burning with the fire of evangelism, you have to get 12 other people’s IT guys to get out of bed at night and do things, and that sometimes takes a month or two!”
The ebullient CEO, who can’t collect frequent flyer points when he travels but packs one of the shiniest airline status cards, counts the Qatar as a king-sized feather in oneworld’s cap – not least of all because it’s the first of the three powerhouse Gulf carriers to sign up to an alliance.
“Qatar is also a really, really good fit for us” Ashby enthuses. “They connect to a lot of places that we didn’t have a member already serving so Qatar is actually quite complementary.”
“They can carry people into a lot of points into Southern Europe and Africa where we didn’t have much presence before, and there are a lot of niches like that where they offer great value to flesh out our network.”
Qatar Airways will be oneworld’s second member airline based in the Middle East, alongside Royal Jordanian, which joined oneworld in 2007.
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