oneworld expands with new link to airlines

first_imgFiji oneworld connect membership The giant oneworld alliance is about to get bigger and extend its reach thanks to a new program designed to accommodate a broader range of airlines as “connect” partners.Oneworld connect is the first new membership platform since the alliance was unveiled almost 20 years ago and is designed to push its global coverage further than its current level of more than 1000 destinations in 150 plus territories.It also takes into account the changing nature of the airline industry and the emergence of low-cost and hybrid business models.Fiji Airways was unveiled as the first connect partner Sunday in the run-up to the International Air Transport Association’s annual conference in Sydney but oneworld chief executive Rob Gurney said talks were already underway with other carriers.READ: Fiji Airways continues record profit roll.“What we build is a scalable model that is a lot more simple to implement and we’re talking to a range of airlines at the moment that are operating more in that low-cost space,’’ Gurney told AirlineRatings.“Because it takes away the requirement to have all of these formal partnerships and systems integrations with every single member airline, it’s really more focused where the greatest commercial potential exists.“It’s simpler for the existing oneworld members but it’s also simpler for the connect partner. So we think we can accommodate a broader range of operators than we’ve traditionally hunted for.”Oneworld connect partners will provide select benefits to the alliance’s frequent flyers traveling on their flights, although they will be less than those offered by full members.Customers with oneworld emerald sapphire or ruby status in a oneworld member airline frequent flyer program will be able to use priority check-in and those with emerald or sapphire status will get priority boarding.Passengers and baggage will get through check-in for their entire journey and the ability to earn and redeem frequent flyer points where the connect member offers a loyalty program.There will also be access to select lounges for first and business class passengers as well as top-tier frequent flyers.Connect members will need to make their networks available on oneworld’s round-the-world Global Explorer fares and to maintain IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA)  certification.Oneworld chairman Pekka Vauramo noted global alliances already account for 60 percent of total industry revenues and global capacity and 75 percent of revenues between the top 125 business city airports.“With most of the world’s biggest airlines already signed up, global alliances have reached maturity,’’ he said.Fiji Airways, part-owned by Australia’s Qantas, saw passenger numbers grow by 12 percent in 2017 and has been adding new destinations.It added Adelaide, San Francisco and Singapore in 2017 and is due to start services to Japan in July, 2018.It flies a combination of Airbus A330, Boeing 737, ATR and Twin Otter aircraft and will take the first of five Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in November.Fiji Airways chief executive Andre Viljoen said the new connect membership would allow the airline to deepen its relationship with oneworld members such as Qantas, American Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific.Viljoen said the connect membership would raise the airline’s profile and help put it on the global airline map.last_img

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