Oman Air says it wants to join the oneworld airline alliance and has tapped Persian Gulf neighbour Qatar Airways for helps with its application as it seeks a path to recovery out of the pandemic.
Owned by the Sultanate of Oman, the small Muscat-based airline has lofty ambitions and has made waves throughout the aviation industry with its luxe passenger cabins and ambitious growth plans.
Oman Air’s meteoric rise has, however, been upended by the pandemic and Oman’s decision to impose some of the toughest border restrictions in the world. The airline’s fate is closely tied with Oman’s bid for high-spending foreigners in the luxury tourism sector which was all but shut down over the last 18-months.
“As the industry recovers from COVID, airline alliances are going to be more important than ever,” Oman Air said in an emailed statement to Reuters, confirming the news that it was seeking a place within the oneworld airline alliance.
“This will provide us with excellent global connectivity, a seamless travel experience and more valuable loyalty offerings for our guests,” the statement continued.
oneworld is one of three big global airline alliances and was founded in 1999 by a group of five airlines including American Airlines and British Airways. The alliance has grown over the years to include 14 full member airlines. Alaska Airlines became the last airline to join the alliance in March after receiving a formal invitation from oneworld in July 2020.
Oman Air is said to have asked Qatar Airways for help in putting together a formal bid to join the alliance according. toReuters. Oman and Qatar are diplomatically on very good terms and Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker is the current chairman of the oneworld alliance.
Qatar Airways became the first major Middle East airline to join a global alliance in 2013 when it became a member of oneworld but its relationship with fellow members hasn’t always been plain sailing.
Rumours that Qatar Airways might want to quit the alliance first emerged just two years after the airline joined oneworld but the threats were taken to the next level several years later.
In early 2019, the often outspoken chief executive of Qatar Airways again reignited the threat to leave the alliance, suggesting that other alliance members didn’t “respect” his airline. But by last February, Al Baker tried to draw a line under the affair, saying he had “moved on from past issues”.
Other Middle East airlines have traditionally eschewed the advantages of being an airline alliance member, with Etihad Airways famously trying to create its own alliance by buying equity stakes in failing airlines. The plan failed on a massive scale and led to a billion-dollar loss of the Abu Dhabi-based airline.
Etihad has since gone on a massive downsizing mission but remains independent of any alliance.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.