Oman Air, the national airline of Oman, has announced its intention to be a member of Oneworld and seek fellow Gulf carrier Qatar Airways’ assistance to apply for the membership. Oman Air has approached Akbar al-Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, who is also the Chairman of Oneworld since May, to assist in grafting the membership application. The carrier wants Qatar Airways to sponsor and guide in making its application. The airline stated the reason behind joining the airline alliance as the aviation industry recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Joining the alliance will provide Oman Air with excellent global connectivity, a seamless travel experience for customers, and loyalty programs/ frequent flyer programs.
Oman Air hasn’t joined any airline alliance at present. Still, it has plans to be a part of such network to expand its operations as it recovers and reshapes its network affected by coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesperson of the Oneworld alliance stated that it was in ongoing discussions with its potential members without commenting on any particular airline, and yet no tentative accession timeline has been disclosed.
Muscat-based Oman Air didn’t give an immediate response to a request for comments, but it confirmed its plan to join Oneworld as the airline has been on a growth trajectory over the last few years. Getting membership in the alliance could expand Oman Air’s options for the traveling customers and further its positions.
There are altogether 14 full airline members, including Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines. Iberia, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, S7 Airlines, Srilankan Airlines, and British Airways in Oneworld alliance. Alaska Airlines is the last carrier to be a member of Oneworld, joining on 31 March 2021. Besides full airline members, Oneworld also constitutes subsidiary and affiliate member carriers, amounting to a total of 37 membership numbers of airlines. The affiliate or connect members (e.g., Fiji Airways) can render alliance perks to only a specific segment of travelers.
Oneworld airlines have nearly 9.1 million scheduled weekly departure seats around the world starting 27 September 27, whereas Star Alliance recorded 13.6 million, and Skyteam held 11.7 million scheduled seats for a week. The largest airline of the Oneworld alliance, American Airlines, nearly handled half of the capacity held by the whole Oneworld alliance.
Qatar Airways’ play on alliance growth
Qatar Airways is a member of Oneworld and holds direct and indirect stakes in three-member carriers that include British Airways and Hong-Kong-based Cathay Pacific. With the CEO of Qatar Airways chairing the alliance, it enjoys several powers to grow and expand Oneworld. On the one hand, Qatar Airways has pretty direct competition with Oman Air in terms of their traffic between Europe and Asia. On the other hand, having Oman Air on the same alliance can assist Qatar Airways to compete and gain market share from Emirates Airlines. The Gulf carriers Qatar Airways and Oman Air already have a close relationship to fly on a codeshare basis.
The other strong Gulf airline such as Saudia is a Skyteam alliance member, and Emirates, Ethihad, Kuwait Airways, and Gulf Air aren’t indulged in any three Oneworld, Skyteam, or Star Alliance.
About Oman Air
Headquartered at Muscat International Airport, Oman Air is the national airline of Oman flying to an extensive network of 34 destinations utilizing the fleet of 32 jets. The airline is set to serve 44 destinations from next year while operating 44 aircraft in its fleet. It operates both domestic and international passenger flights and also offers regional air taxi and charter services to the customers. It flies on codeshare agreements with Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Royal Jordanian, etc.
The membership to Oman Air in the Oneworld alliance will lead to the options for connecting traffic to the alliance. Oman Air serves major European and Asian hubs through Qatar Airways. Since Muscat hasn’t seen any large Oneworld presence, Oman Air can result in some airlines like Cathay Pacific or Finnair flying to Oman if it gets the membership, or it can add the new flights to partner hubs for connecting journey.
Given no significant objections or politics getting along the way for joining the alliance, Oman Air can make its interest to seek Oneworld membership a reality where Oneworld customers will be able to earn and redeem travel miles on Oman Air and that the airline can gain the strongest elite recognition. Oman Air will also get the perk of partnering with other Oneworld carriers for connection flights, and others can add new flights to its hub.