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OneWorld: New Chairman – Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive

OneWorld: New Chairman – Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive

Akbar Al Bakar is taking over from Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO as Chairman of the OneWorld alliance.

Al Bakar is known for his provocative statements, including about OneWorld:

“About oneworld, it was not a rumor, you heard it from me. And we have given them a breathing space to get their act together. You see when you invite somebody, you invite me, to your house, and then you tell me that I can not drink the water from the glass I have to drink from the tap, and then you tell me that we will not give you any food, we will only give you bread and water. This is not why you invited me to your house. You invited me to your house as your guest, and as somebody that you respect.”

59-year-old Al Baker has been CEO of Qatar Airways since 1997, making him the longest serving CEO of any oneworld airline.

I’d expect some strong statements, if not action from Al Bakar, since he is not afraid to speak his mind.

Qatar – worlds best airline?

Well that’s my opinion after taking several trips with them in business, and not even in their new sliding doored suites.

Qatar has also maintained services to Australia throughout the pandemic, although restricted to sometimes less than 50 passengers per flight, due to our quarantine requirements.

Qatar Airways is a highly-awarded airline, has an extensive global network and plans to serve over 140 destinations by end of July 2021. Qatar Airways joined oneworld in October 2013.

Is his appointment significant?

Possibly. Al Bakar has been a pretty consistent critic of the alliance and the ‘poor cousin’ way the airline has been treated particularly by carriers in the USA like American Airlines. He has threatened to quit the alliance several times, but given that Qatar has significant holdings in IAG, the parent company for two other alliance members (British Airways and Iberia), I don’t think that is likely.

Alliance advantage

Qatar is the only middle eastern airline that is a member of a significant alliance, which may indeed give it an edge over Emirates – well at least that is what OMAAT thinks. Head over there if you want to catch up on the amusing saga of Al Bakar’s public comments.

2PAXfly Takeout

The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.

It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.

This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.

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