Star Alliance remains stoically convinced that it does not need a Gulf carrier within its ranks, despite being left in the cold after recent accords between airlines in the region and its rival alliances.
Speaking at the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum in Panama City, Star chief executive Mark Schwab took an aggressive stance about the recent moves by Qatar Airways to join Oneworld; Etihad to link with SkyTeam's Air France-KLM; and Emirates' plan to forge a deep tie-up with Qantas.
"Seemingly unlimited access to capital obviously has its limits, as has pushing over-capacity into saturated markets," said Schwab. "In other words, market realities have finally brought some realism to Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai."
Schwab told Flightglobal that Star was quite happy not to count a Gulf carrier among its members, despite the fact that both its rival alliances now have footholds in the region: "We don't see what they would add into Star Alliance. It's very clear what they would get out of joining a global alliance, but they really have no home markets to add to our proposition and they don't add anything to the network that we don't already have," he said.
Qatar Airways will join Oneworld within 18 months while Etihad's tie-up with Air France-KLM took effect on 28 October. Emirates and Qantas will begin their extensive cooperation programme in March, once approvals are in place.