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Qatar Airways Open to Joining ‘Any Alliance,’ CEO Al Baker Says

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Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Qatar Airways Ltd., the Middle East’s second largest carrier, “is open to joining any alliance” in the industry, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said.

“Its a two-way street,” Al Baker said today in an interview in the Qatari capital Doha. “If somebody wants us to join an alliance because it will impede our growth, we are not interested.”

Most international airlines belong to one of the three global marketing alliances -- Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star -- which typically allow them to sell seats on one another’s flights as their own and to link frequent flier programs. Some Gulf carriers are now likely to join one of the groupings, Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways’ parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, said in April.

Al Baker commented after a report in the Financial Times today that the airline agreed to join the Oneworld alliance, which includes British Airways and American Airlines. A press conference announcing Qatar Airways’ membership would happen on Oct. 8, the FT said.

“It’s not true,” he said. “It’s all rumors.”

Qatar Airlines is looking at all three of the alliances, Chief Planning Officer Michael Swiatek said in Istanbul last month.

The airline, which flies 111 aircraft to 118 destinations, has orders worth more than $50 billion for 250 aircraft, including Boeing Co. 787s, 777s, Airbus SAS A350s, A380s and A320s, according to a Sept. 23 statement. The carrier plans to begin flying to six new destinations over the next six months, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Tuttle in Doha at rtuttle@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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