Oneworld relaxed about Qantas’s Emirates tie-up

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The Oneworld alliance appears unfazed by the major strategic partnership recently announced by its Australian member Qantas and unaligned Emirates, which it says will have no effect on its structure.

"Qantas's agreement with Emirates has no impact," says Oneworld.

Qantas's global alliance intentions were confirmed by chief executive Alan Joyce at the time of the Emirates announcement, who said: "We're going to be continuing our membership of Oneworld."

The alliance, in which Qantas was a founder member along with its long-standing partner British Airways, takes a less aggressive approach than rivals Star and SkyTeam towards members' agreements with airlines outside its circle.

"We've always been flexible and more liberal with regard to bilateral links between our members and carriers outside the alliance," says Oneworld. "These are often needed to strengthen the position of individual Oneworld members - and having strong airline members is good for our alliance."

Although Qantas terminated its 17-year-old joint services agreement with BA on the Kangaroo route as part of its shift to align with Emirates on Australia-Europe flights, Oneworld says the carrier stressed it would continue to work closely with the UK airline on a bilateral basis.

BA meanwhile is searching for a replacement partner for its Asian services. "Asia has become a key market focus for [British Airways parent] International Airlines Group and we're talking to a number of airlines about alternative options for us," says IAG chief executive Willie Walsh.