Qatar Airways will officially join the Oneworld alliance in October, Business Traveller has learned.
The move comes earlier than expected - when the airline first announced a year ago that it was to join the alliance, it gave itself a deadine of March 2014. It had recently been rumoured that Qatar's Oneworld entry would take place in December.
But a senior Qatar source at the Paris Air Show has revealed that an entry date of October has now been cemented.
British Airways is serving as Qatar's sponsor in joining Oneworld, supported by the central alliance team, mentoring the recruit through its alliance implementation programme.
Qatar Airways will be Oneworld's second member airline based in the Middle East, alongside Royal Jordanian, which became the first airline from the region to join any of the global alliances (see online news, October 2005).
Qatar's network serves 120 destinations in 70 countries in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia and Australasia. Fifteen of its destinations and three countries - Iran and Rwanda - will be new to Oneworld.
Qatar already code-shares with Oneworld member Malaysia Airlines (see online news, May 2012).
Oneworld members will be able to take advantage of Qatar's home airport, the New Doha International Airport, when it opens later this year with an eventual capacity for 50 million passengers annually (see online news, August 2012).
Once Qatar becomes part of Oneworld its Privilege Club frequent flyer members will be able to earn and redeem rewards on any other alliance carriers, with top tier members able to use any of the group's 550 plus airport lounges.
At the same time, frequent flyer cardholders of other Oneworld airlines will be able to earn and redeem rewards when flying on Qatar Airways and can access Qatar Airways' lounges.
On a related note, the source also told Business Traveller that the carrier's London office ticket desk will next month be moving from its West Kensington base to Harrods department store in nearby Knightsbridge.