End of cheap deals? Qatar Airways and British Airways sign Joint Business Agreement

Qatar Airways and British Airways unveiled a ‘joint business agreement’ yesterday covering flights between the UK and Doha.

What this means, in simple terms, is that all revenue generated from Qatar and BA services to Doha is put into a big pile and then shared out between them according to a pre-agreed formula.

British Airways and Finnair have a similar deal with Japan Airlines covering Europe to Japan routes, and of course there is the massive AA / BA / Iberia / Finnair deal covering flights to North America.

All Qatar Airways flights from the UK will carry a British Airways flight code, and vice versa, from 30th October.

Is this good for customers?

Qatar Airways said yesterday:

“The joint business will benefit customers by offering a wider choice of flights, an enhanced network, greater choice of fares and superior benefits for members of their frequent flyer programmes.”

However, ask yourself this question.  If Tesco and Sainsbury agreed to match their prices on every single product and co-ordinate store openings so that they no longer competed directly with each other for the same customer, would this be a good thing?

Qatar 350

Does this mean the end of Qatar Airways sale deals from the UK?

Good question.  It certainly won’t have any impact on Qatar Airways pricing from the rest of Europe.

However, any Qatar Airways deal from the UK will now have to be available across British Airways services too.

Let’s say that Qatar Airways offers a £1,750 fare from the UK to Sydney.  You would be able to book this, for the same price, using British Airways to get to Doha before you switch to an onwards Qatar Airways flight.  The yield on this flight will be very low for BA although, due to revenue pooling, it doesn’t actually matter to BA whether you are on a BA or Qatar Airways aircraft.

Of course, you would have to be pretty mad to voluntarily fly British Airways in Business or First Class to Doha when a Qatar Airways alternative is available …..

As the State of Qatar is now the biggest shareholder in International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways, this deal is not a surprise.

The best Qatar Airways sale deals were always out of continental Europe anyway, so hopefully nothing will change here.

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  1. Do you think this will apply to routes out of the U.K. That BA does not fly from, I.e. Birmingham?

  2. “Of course, you would have to be pretty mad to voluntarily fly British Airways in Business or First Class to Doha when a Qatar Airways alternative is available”

    Perhaps some people don’t want to fly Qatar Airways based on an ethical choice?

  3. Errr…. how is this not anti-competitive behaviour? Only in the airline industry!!

    • Lady London says:

      I do not understand how competition authorities in the USA or Europe are so blindsided by the airlines as to accept these “Joint Business Agreements”. They’re another word for price-fixing and cartels.
      Route-sharing and codesharing are anticompetitive.

      Interestingly, it will open earning of miles on QR flights to frequent fliers of any airline whose frequent fliers can earn on with BA and not just OneWorld ones.

    • Hear hear – one for the CMA to look at

  4. Hopefully sooner rather than later the competition authorities might have another look at these profit sharing agreements and shift position on them

  5. Given the restricted access other airlines have at LHR this deal really should require regulatory approval. It’s bad news for consumers n the UK who already face some of the highest air fares in the world. It also means BA continue to be protected from competition and have even less incentive to improve.

  6. Are we sure it’s revenue pooling? Other news outlets have reported that it’s not the same as the agreement that AA/BA/IB/AY has over the Atlantic, for example.

  7. Rob, I’m hoping to fly to South Africa in early November and was planning on flying Qatar airlines (connecting via Doha) rather than direct for added tier points – will this connection option show on the BA site from 30 October? Should I wait to book until then to get the triple avios from the BA site?


    • Obviously you do, if you put your BA number in the booking.

      Once the codeshare is in place, status bonuses should kick in for BA status members too if you book under the BA code.

  8. Does this mean that I’ll be able to book an Avios redemption on Qatar at the same ‘price’ as on BA?

  9. Would the revenue agreement lead to interchangeable Avios/ Qmiles?

  10. Potential benefit is flying Qatar on a BA code and getting 100% gold card holder avios bonus

  11. Would also get bonus Avios if paying on a BAPP and QR flights would count towards BA eligible flights for status.

  12. Quite surprised. Why would Qatar needs this?

  13. BlackBerryAddict says:

    The Tesco – Sainsbury’s really doesn’t hold. If there had been no regulations about airlines merging cross border, Qatar would simply have bought IAG. Other than direct lhr-doh traffic that would not have raised any competition concerns.

  14. Given the recent commentary about the long term downward pressure on business class fares, it is unsurprising that operators seek cartel arrangements to protect the artificially high fares charged from the UK.

    I also think this is a breach or near breach of anti competition rules as there is no way the consumer is better off here.

    As flights from the EU to Asia on Qatar are routinely sub £1000 against a minimum £1500 or so in the UK, this should have been looked into far more deeply and hopefully it will be.

  15. Flying in May to Qatar to visit in laws and was going to use my 2-4-1 voucher and fly F. I’m guessing this still won’t mean we can use 2-4-1 in Qatar metal?

  16. Totally O/T – But help would be appreciated – Do BA not credit avios from Flight and hotel bookings??? Im getting this message for flights I took last week.
    Ineligible flight – THESSALONIKI – LONDON GATWICK (M/X)
    I fully paid in cash. Go on the “claim missing miles” page and saying my E-ticket number is not recognised. Bit sloppy.

    • I always get Avios from flight and hotel bookings. You’re also meant to get 2 bonus Avios for every £1.

    • Was it booked on a BA only flight?

    • Funny that – I had EXACTLY the same on a flight to and from, wait for it, Thessaloniki on a BA Holiday booking.

      Apparently, that happens from time to time – some BA Holiday bookings end up in X buckets, even though they are NOT redemption bookings. Because of it, there doesn’t seem anything that gets credited for them automatically.

      However, the good news is that BA did credit me miles and points for those flights after asking them. So – always double-check you holiday bookings to see whether you got all the miles and points that you were entitled to!

  17. “If Tesco and Sainsbury agreed to match their prices”
    I’m sure I saw this analogy on FT yesterday with the exact same supermarkets…

  18. sounds like price fixing.
    Wonder how long it will go on for before someone challenges the legality of it.

  19. Rumor Aer Lingus will be joining the AA / BA / Iberia / Finnair Joint Business deal covering flights to North America.

    • Wayne Phillips says:

      Surely this is only a matter of time

    • Lady London says:

      …meaning prices will never go down, as there will be practically no one competing on the route.

      This has to stop, folks !!

      Are our regulators sleepwalking?

      Does the CAA have any teeth, anyway? They do not seem to have been terribly ;prompt in pursuing cases where airlines flagrantly fail to pay out on EU261 as a matter of policy.

      Has the UK really been sold to corporate interests?

  20. Raffles, do you think this will now see us earning more avios on QR flights? A bit like on AA flights across the atlantic.

  21. This joint business agreement explains some of the changes in this:


    “Can BA win enough business from Qatar’s six daily London services to fill an overnight Doha service?”

    Doesn’t really matter now!

  22. So, does that mean that flying QR metal on a BA flight code qualify as one of the four flights one has to fly on BA each year to maintain Gold?

  23. You can if you credit the flight to BAEC

  24. Qatar Airways operates a wholly superior business class to British Airways. Indeed the Qatar product on the 787 and A380 in more akin to British Airways First Class. Further, Akbar Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways has announced that Qatar’s business class is to be further enhanced with the arrival of a new Super Business Class being rolled out commencing in November. This will leave BA’s business class looking even more inadequate which will make it harder for BA to fill their aircraft on the Doha route. As Doha is principally a hub airport with Qatar providing the onward flights to destinations in Asia, Australia and elsewhere in Middle East, Akbar Al Baker may have entered into this agreement purely to boost passenger numbers on those onward flights by increasing capacity on the LHR DOH leg by being able to fly people on BA aircraft. Meanwhile the deal may be attractive to BA simply because it enables them to operate with higher loads on this route. I don’t necessarily think we will see pricing increase to most destinations served by Qatar particularly with strong competition from Etihad, Emirates and Turkish. There is more risk for passengers just travelling between London and Doha with no onward connection.

  25. Lewis Watson says:

    Wish they just go the whole way buy ba out. Flew Qatar last year and the experience in economy is better than a lot of airlines business class.

  26. Lewis Watson says:

    EDI DOH PER KTA (last leg was a code share). First leg a380 out of Edinburgh in economy. Apart from the seat superior to club every way. Great service from crew, constant top ups on drinks, club kitchen style thing in galley for economy passengers, electricity at every seat, great food actual glasses and plates, e times as much stuff on the on board entertainment as ba.

  27. ~£150 of Air Passenger Duty, and the expensive Heathrow fees are two culprits of relatively high J fares compared to ex-EU.

    What gets my goat is there is no justification for charging premium flyers more APD. The tax is (was) to offset environmental costs. The amount of CO2 produced by my presence on the plane is directly proportional to my weight, nothing else. I suppose they justify it as a higher tax rate. Then why don’t they just say it is 10%, so F, pays more than J, which pays more than Y?

    That it discourages tourism is bad for the economy, and probably costs more in negative balance of trade than the £3b it contributes to the Treasury.

  28. I have Qatar flights booked for December… Im assuming I will still be on Qatar metal as I booked these in April…?