Qatar Airways eyes deeper ties with oneworld partners

ABU DHABI Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:11am EST

ABU DHABI Feb 25 (Reuters) - Qatar Airways is open to revenue-sharing partnerships with other airlines that are part of its global airline alliance, including British Airways , the chief executive of the Gulf carrier said on Tuesday.

Akbar Al Baker said Qatar Airways was in talks with British Airways, one of the founding members of the oneworld alliance, on a codesharing agreement - in which the airlines would share some flights - and was open to stronger partnerships in the future.

"We will consider revenue-sharing partnerships with our oneworld partners," Baker said on the sidelines of a business jet exhibition.

"But it will not just be revenue-sharing but also loss-sharing. We have to be able to support each other."

Qatar Airways became a full member of the oneworld alliance in October last year, the only Gulf carrier to join a global alliance. Oneworld was founded in 1998 by American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.

State-backed Gulf carriers are aggressively expanding their global reach through partnerships with other global airlines, while boosting their fleets.

Dubai's Emirates partnered with Qantas last year, ending the Australian airline's 17-year alliance with British Airways. Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad Airways has taken minority stakes in several airlines including Air Berlin , Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus.

Baker said his airline was still looking for opportunities to invest in European carriers.

"We get a lot of offers. We may look at them," he said without elaborating.

DOHA AIRPORT

Wealthy gas producer Qatar has made huge investments in infrastructure to establish itself as an international hub before it hosts the soccer World Cup in 2022. The Gulf state is building the $15 billion Hamad International airport, which is set to open later this year and replace the current main airport.

"We expect it to open in the second quarter of the year. The move will be two phases," said Baker.

Low-cost airlines will move to the new airport first, followed by full-service carriers. "We will move operations overnight and would require the current airport operations to be shut for about six to eight hours."

Baker also said his airline was looking to buy 10 more aircraft for its business jet operations.

"We are putting out a request for proposal (RFP) for another 10 jets," he said, without specifying the time frame for placing an order.