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05/04/2009 – Qatar Airways & US Airways : An Unusual Alliance?
Last week an unusual, and somewhat one-sided, alliance was formed between two international airlines.
On the 2nd of April Qatar Airways and US Airways announced a code-share agreement between the two airlines. This agreement opens up the Middle East, India, Asia and Africa to US Airways flyers via seven different connection points in Europe; in return Qatar Airways flyers have easy access to more than 200 destinations in the United States on US Airways.
This code-share agreement comes on the heels of Qatar Airways announcement of its expansion within the United States, but leaves a few questions on its choice of new code-share partner.
The obvious first question is why Qatar Airways chose US Airways when they already have a code-share agreement in place with United Airlines. United Airlines serves more than 200-destinations in the United States, offer more connection points in Europe and has on-ward connections to Latin America Additionally United Airlines is a Star Alliance partner with US Airways.
Qatar Airways’ choice in code share partner is also curious, as the airline is a ‘5-Star’ Airline, one of only six 5-Star Airlines in the world, according to SkyTrax’s airline quality ratings. While United Airlines is ‘only’ a 3-Star Airline, as is US Airways, the reputation of US Airways for customer service, in-flight amenities and the quality of its class of service is quite poor among frequent flyers.
Qatar Airways passengers transiting from the airlines highly regarded in-flight service to US Airways for trans-Atlantic and US domestic connections might be in for a bit of a surprise at the drastic difference in the passenger experience.
Aside from this new code-share agreement, could this new alliance signal Qatar Airways intention to join Star Alliance, one of the three major global airline alliances? Of the 10 airlines Qatar Airways enjoys code-share agreements with, as of last week six of them are Star Alliance carriers (US Airways, United Airlines, Lufthansa, ANA, Asiana Airlines, BMI). With the three major airline alliances seeking partners in the Middle East, as no alliance has a full partner from the region, this might be an interesting introductory path.