Qatar Airways Buys a Stake in British Airways Parent IAG

oneworld alliance members British Airways and Qantas were once BFFs, participating in a joint venture on the London-Sydney (“Kangaroo”) route. Money-losing Qantas exited that arrangement in favor of working outside the alliance with Emirates, which has led to major Emirates growth in the Australia market.

Emirates competitor and Gulf mega-carrier Qatar then joined oneworld. (And, incidentally, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad partners with American as does Gulf Air.)

I predicted two years ago that British Airways and Qatar would form a joint venture. (My wild speculation about Etihad and airberlin has not borne similar fruit.)

Now comes word that Qatar has purchased Herman Cain’s stake 9.99% of IAG, parent of British Airways (and Iberia, and perhaps soon Aer Lingus).

If this announcement were just coming from the Qatar side, it wouldn’t be credible. But IAG chief Willie Walsh confirms it as well.

The two airlines are already alliance members. The stake then must be seen as a way for Qatar to get additional coordination with and traffic from BA. It’s hard to imagine where Qatar routes more traffic through slot-controlled London Heathrow, and especially as they’re growing and serving plenty of routes in Europe. And for those destinations not served directly, BA is already their primary European partner. But BA may send more connecting traffic through Doha rather than Hong Kong as a result.

If there’s a loser in this deal it has to be Willie Walsh, who will now have to deal much more regularly with Qatar CEO Akbar al-Baker.

(HT: Traveling Better)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. With filthy seats, long call wait times, extortionate surcharges, near non-existant customer service, ancient Club World offering and a Club Europe product that makes Ryanair look comfortable, I can’t help but think that Willie Walsh deserves everything he gets.

  2. Qantas should have joined forces with Qatar instead of Emirates. BA/QR/QF would have ended up one big happy family.

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