Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has reiterated a threat to leave the Oneworld alliance if the ongoing subsidies dispute between Gulf carriers and three US mainline carriers is not resolved.
"If we find that we can't find a settlement to this issue, than yes, we will exit Oneworld," Al Baker said today at the Paris air show.
The possibility of a withdrawal from the alliance had previously been raised by Al Baker during media interviews at the IATA annual general meeting in Miami earlier this month.
Oneworld member American Airlines is one of the three US carriers – alongside Delta Air Lines and United Airlines – that are calling for their national government to begin talks with the UAE and Qatari administrations. The US carriers say Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways received more than $42 billion in state subsidies and are thus violating open-skies agreements.
At the Paris air show, Al Baker repeated accusations that American was "blocking inventory" on passenger booking systems and preventing gate access for Qatar at New York JFK airport.
Al Baker says that if his carrier continues to be "cornered" by American, "then there is no purpose to be in an alliance."
An American spokesperson says the airline is working with Qatar to find a solution for the airline's gate needs at JFK. "The times that Qatar has requested for gates conflict with the times we use our gates, and a solution will take some time to work out. We have turned down similar requests from other partner airlines."
Qatar is a shareholder in IAG, whose airlines British Airways and Iberia are in Oneworld as well.
This story has been updated to include the American statement