Star Alliance chief executive Mark Schwab has questioned the value any of the big three Gulf carriers - Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways or Qatar Airways - would bring to an alliance.
Speaking at the Airline Business Alliances, Joint Ventures and Partnerships conference in Istanbul, he says: "For the time being we don't see strong home markets being delivered to us and we don't see many new cities being added to the network."
While Schwab says he's "learnt to never say never" and concedes that the geography of the region makes the three airlines interesting, he adds "you don't necessarily have to have a relationship with one of those carriers to be relevant in that marketplace".
Yet Bruce Ashby, chief executive of Oneworld, hints that his alliance may welcome a large Gulf carrier as a member. "We don't say 'We don't like you, we won't work with you,'," he says.
Discussions over the potential entry of the three carriers into alliances are "a natural outcome of the growth and size of those airlines", he says.