Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int'l) Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker has threatened to pull his airline out of the Oneworld alliance claiming fellow member American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) was impeding its growth.

"There is no point in us being in oneworld if an airline that invited us, hosted us in America to sign the entry to oneworld, is today going against us," he told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of IATA's ongoing AGM in Miami.

According to al Baker, American was not offering Qatar Airways adequate access to its reservations system thus negatively impacting transfer traffic. In addition, he claimed the US carrier had not granted it gate access at New York JFK's Terminal 8 for a planned second daily A350-900-operated flight from Doha Hamad Int'l.

An American spokesman has disputed the latter claim stating the carrier's refusal to grant Qatar Airways additional gate capacity was as a result of capacity constraints and had nothing to do with an ongoing trade dispute between the two carriers.

US carriers American, United Airlines (UA, Chicago O'Hare), and Delta Air Lines (DL, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson), and their European counterparts Air France-KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Lufthansa (LH, Frankfurt Int'l), are locked in a bitter dispute with Middle Eastern rivals Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l), Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int'l), and Qatar Airways (the 'ME3' carriers) whose operations they claim, are subsidized by both direct and indirect state-aid. This funding, they add, allows the ME3 to unfairly compete with their US and European rivals thereby distorting the market.

The US carriers further allege the ME3 have so far benefited from USD43 billion in subsidization in contravention of fair-competition rules specified in the United States' Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

The ME3, however, have refuted the allegations claiming that US Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws have unfairly benefited the three US carriers to the tune of USD71.5 billion. As a state-owned airline, al Baker has argued that the Qatari government has every right to inject capital into the business.

“We don’t receive handouts or subsidies from the state,” he told the National newspaper in May. “The state is the owner of the airline but it’s within the right of any owner to inject equity. We are independent. We are operating a very successful model of an airline that is owned by the state as a commercial company.”