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IATA: Oneworld works round Gulf row tensions

Suggestions that strained relations between the US and Gulf majors over subsidies could prompt Qatar Airways to consider leaving Oneworld, were played down by the alliance which points to productive meetings between its members at IATA's Annual General Meeting.

Qatar Airways and American Airlines - both partners in Oneworld after the former joined the alliance in October 2013 - find themselves in the middle of thee high profile row that has developed over the three US majors' assertion that the three Gulf mega-carriers benefit from subsidies. This prompted a robust defence from the Gulf operators.

Chief executive of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying "there is no point us being in the alliance if an airline [American] that invited us...is today going against us".

A spokesman for the alliance stresses that both carriers are valued Oneworld members and that Al Baker and American chief executive Doug Parker were among 13 airline bosses which held productive meetings during the AGM looking at "how to strengthen the alliance".

Asked a couple days ago about his meeting with Al Baker during the AGM, Parker said: "I met with Akbar the day before yesterday, we had a nice talk… We clearly have a disagreement on this point, that’s fine. That doesn’t affect the business relationship [as] this is a public policy issue."

He reiterated this position when asked today about Al Baker's comment during a joint press conference held today related to the deepening of its co-operation with another of its Oneworld partners, Qantas.

For his part, Alan Joyce chief executive of Qantas - which has its own wide-ranging relationship with another of the Gulf carriers, Emirates - pointed to the flexibility of the grouping.

"Oneworld has always been an alliance that focuses in and allows these partnerships to happen. Both American and Qantas are founding members of Oneworld. We do deals with carriers inside and outside Oneworld. If there's opportunities, its always been a very flexible alliance and allows carriers to have those arrangements," he says.

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