The Strange, Game-Theoretic Choice Of New Chairman For The oneworld Allaince

The CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, is the new Chairman of the oneworld alliance. This is such a strange choice.

He was less than honest about joining oneworld in the first place and seems a prime candidate to be cancelled for comments about the age of U.S. airline flight attendants.

Two years ago Al Baker was threatening to leave oneworld as other members of the alliance – American Airlines and Qantas – were trying to use their governments to block the Doha-based carrier’s flights to the U.S. and Australia.

Perhaps it’s because the Qatar Airways boss was threatening to leave oneworld that it made the most sense to make him its Chairman. It may have been suggested that Qatar staying in the alliance would mean the honor would pass to the airline’s leader, or by voting Al Baker as head of the alliance it makes it more difficult for him to threaten to leave during the course of his term. Plus he does seem to like arranging honors for himself.

Now we just need the oneworld alliance to commit to quality in the manner that Qatar markets itself as doing. For instance the alliance needs to return to requiring member airlines to through-check luggage for passengers traveling on separate tickets, a policy that Qatar Airways realized was a mistake to eliminate.

It’s not likely, of course, alliances have little power over incumbent members and must seek consensus for policies. And alliances in the pre-Covid world were fading in importance, replaced in many ways by revenue-sharing anti-trust immunized joint ventures often by subsets of carriers inside the same alliance but not exclusively.

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. How did he become chairman of One World? Do the heads of member airlines vote?

  2. @Gary – Wasn’t a big part of the reason for ending this that BA was refusing to do it anyway, or am I misremembering (e.g. it could have been CX)? If it was BA, does Qatar’s now 25%+ stake in IAG, and chairmanship of OneWorld, mean a potential return to the old policies?

    I sure miss knowing I could through-check bags and rely on AA to treat my separate tickets as one itinerary…

  3. Al Baker is an entertaining person to hear from that’s for sure.
    It would be great if he does increase the quality of other OW airlines.

  4. Should be interesting. I have not been able to buy the oneworld RTW product from Qatar. Granted it’s been a while since I tried, but, still, oneworld seems to be of little consequence to Qatar.

  5. Seems more like a story of western perfidy to me.
    Also i dont think his comments about the worst airline attendandants is something to be ignored. Has anyone realised how bad aa service is? Or we are too woke to admit the truth??

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