Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker wants to see more airlines brought into the Oneworld family, along with a drive to increase Oneworld’s profile and branding, as part of an “aggressive” push for the alliance.
The always-outspoken Al Baker is currently Chairman of Oneworld’s Governing Board, having been appointed in May 2021 to succeed Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, who had served in the role since September 2018.
“Under my leadership, we don’t accept anything other than being number one,” Al Baker told the FlightPlan III webinar hosted by Inmarsat Aviation and aviation trade group APEX.
He said his aim would be to increase the number of members in the alliance, which currently has 14 full members – most recently adding Alaska Airlines to the roster in March 2021 – against the 26 in Star Alliance and 19 in SkyTeam.
More members, more muscle
Oneworld members – with the exception of Qatar Airways, of course – were also letting the side down in promoting Oneworld.
“I think the airline members, minus Qatar Airways, are not branding the alliance in the way it deserves. It is important that we be aggressive and let people know that we are the best.”
Al Baker was also optimistic on the rebound of travel in general, and business and premium travel in particular.
“It’s like during the financial crisis, which was due to mortgages – people didn’t stop mortgaging their properties,” he related. “Travel is important in exactly the same way.”
“People want to travel and people are ready to pay,” Al Baker added, with travel habits already skewing towards business class.
“We have 15-20% more occupants in our premium cabin than pre-pandemic, and our yields and prices are higher than pre-pandemic.”
On the fate of Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380s, Al Baker reiterated that no more than five of the Gulf carrier’s ten superjumbos would return to the skies, and that’s if they come back at all.
“The business is not going to turn around that quickly, so there will not be enough…