Above: International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh, left, and Qatar Airways chief Al Baker.
Qatar Airways, one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing airlines, will make flying solo a thing of the past after announcing it has elected to join the Oneworld alliance.
It is expected to take between 12 and 18 months for the carrier to be fully implemented into the club—founding member British Airways has acted as sponsor for Qatar.
Qatar has one of the youngest fleets around—111 Boeing and Airbus planes have an average age of just four years—while its ascension to Oneworld will bring 15 new destinations into the alliance’s route map. Customers will also be offered new choices when flying to and from Asia, including one-stop connections that were not previously available in the Oneworld network.
Qatar Airways’ network serves 120 destinations in 70 countries. The news is expected to extend Oneworld’s global coverage to 856 destinations in 159 countries, served by a combined fleet of 2,600 aircraft operating more than 9,300 flights and carrying almost a million passengers every day—all of which serves to generate annual revenue of almost US$120 billion.
The next year will prove significant for Qatar; the Doha-based carrier is due to move into the new Doha International Airport in 2013, which has a target capacity of 50 million passengers per year.