two airplanes in the sky
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I didn’t go to journalism school. In fact, I dropped out of college, but that’s neither here nor there and a story for another day entirely. I always assumed that had I in fact gone to journalism school, I would likely have been told that reading between the lines is a very, very important skill.

Weeks ago, many travel media outlets received invitations to a February 1st press conference of Oneworld airline CEOs to celebrate 20 years of the Oneworld alliance partnership and exciting new frontiers in travel. A few things struck me as odd or intriguing, reading between the lines of course…

a sign on a standFor starters, that many CEOs rarely congregate, even at the world’s biggest industry events. Next, it also seemed to coincide with messaging from British Airways, teasing a Feb 1 reveal. But the curiosity which sent many colleagues into buzz mode, was the notable lack of attendance from one airline and one airline only: Qatar Airways. The drama instantly intensified.

Despite confirmed attendance from almost every airline CEO in the alliance, Qatar and LATAM were the only notably missing airlines. Only one of those airlines was involved in a very public “spat” over the purpose and or future of an alliance at all. Hopefully you can read between the lines and figure that one out for yourself.

two airplanes in the skyIn fact, pushed by Bloomberg to clarify their position in light of the non confirmed attendance to the event, Qatar Airways flatly refused. This left many people, myself included wondering if “it” was actually happening. “It” being Qatar Airways leaving the Oneworld alliance behind for good, with Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker going through on his numerous threats and insinuations that they indeed would. To be fair, he had some legitimate points in the midst of his threats.

CEOs from all 13 member airlines will be there”. 

Fast forward to January 31st, and the text of the updated invite reminder has changed. All CEOs are now confirmed to be in attendance, and the invite made sure to include Akbar Al Baker, the Chairman and CEO of Qatar Airways in the brief teaser. He will be there. I’ve seen it. It’s real.

Now continuing with this reading between the lines business, it would appear highly irregular for a CEO to turn up to a press conference celebrating 20 years of unity and future innovation only to use it as a platform to say goodbye forever. If that was to happen, it would fall in the “mic drop” category of epic, but that seems highly, highly unlikely.

Qatar Airways may always have one foot out the proverbial door, but by all logical counts, it’s in the Oneworld alliance to stay, at least for the time being.

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Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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