Oneworld today announced new Oneworld Connect partner concept following something that Star Alliance launched last year with one Chinese airline (read more here), although seems that the concept here is more deeper cooperation.
Oneworld Connect requires connect partners only to offer priority check in and boarding to all eligible Oneworld elite members. Members from Oneworld programs that are sponsoring the airline will have the usual benefits of earning and redeeming miles in addition to having lounge access etc.
Oneworld states that they are in discussions with airlines in Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regarding this concept.
Here’s the benefit matrix.
Here’s the press release from the Oneworld:
oneworld® today launches a new platform for linking up to the world’s premier airline alliance – enabling customers to enjoy more services and benefits across an even more extensive global network.
The first airline to join in the new capacity as a oneworld connect partner will be Fiji Airways.
A date will be announced in due course for when Fiji Airways will start offering oneworld connect services and benefits (see below). Meantime, it is business as usual.
Oneworld connect is the first new membership platform unveiled by oneworld since the alliance was originally announced 20 years ago.
oneworld is in discussion with other carriers interested in participating in the programme, from various parts of the world including the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe.
Each oneworld connect partner will need to have a minimum of three oneworld members as its sponsors to be initiated into the programme. The initial oneworld sponsors of Fiji Airways will be all four of oneworld’s original founding members – American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. The Australian carrier will additionally mentor Fiji Airways through its oneworld connect implementation process.
American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas already code-share and have frequent flyer links with Fiji Airways. British Airways and Fiji Airways are currently discussing areas for potential bilateral cooperation.
What oneworld connect means for customers
oneworld connect partners will provide select alliance benefits to frequent flyers from any oneworld member airline travelling on their flights, with a more extensive range of benefits offered with their oneworld sponsors.
Customers with Emerald, Sapphire or Ruby status in any oneworld member airline’s frequent flyer programme will be able to use priority check-in desks, where available. Also, customers with Emerald or Sapphire status will be offered priority boarding.
The additional benefits offered by oneworld connect partners to customers from their oneworld sponsors and vice versa include:
- Through check-in of passengers and their baggage for journeys including connections between a connect carrier and any of its oneworld sponsors.
- The ability to earn and redeem frequent flyer rewards, and earn frequent flyer status points, for eligible flights. (For customers from oneworld connect airlines, these benefits depend on the oneworldconnect partner offering a frequent flyer programme.
- Access to select lounges at key airports for First or Business Class passengers or those with eligible top-tier frequent flyer status.
Select other customer benefits may also be offered between oneworld connect partners and their oneworldsponsor airlines.
All oneworld connect partners will make their networks available via Global Explorer, the round-the-world fare offered by all oneworld members and select other airlines. Fiji Airways already does so.
All oneworld connect partners will be required to maintain IATA IOSA safety certification.
oneworld’s regular range of services and benefits remain in place for customers flying with the alliance’s full member airlines and their affiliates.
CEOs explain oneworld connect’s strategic rationale
oneworld Governing Board Chairman Pekka Vauramo, CEO of Finnair, said: “In the 20 years since oneworld’s conception in 1998, global airline alliances have expanded their breadth to the extent that they now account for 60 per cent of total industry revenues and capacity globally, and 70 per cent of revenues between the world’s top 125 business city airports.
“With most of the world’s biggest airlines already signed up, global airline alliances have reached maturity, In the future, oneworld will target as full members large airlines that have a significant presence in the alliance’s prime target market, providing connections between the world’s leading business centres. Meantime, oneworldconnect enables us to bring together more airlines to complement the alliance’s global leaders, so customers can earn rewards and feel recognised while travelling even further.”
oneworld CEO Rob Gurney added: “oneworld’s current network of more than 1,000 destinations in 150 plus territories offers far-reaching global coverage, but there are still some regions where we would like to strengthen our presence further. With fewer potential new candidates available to recruit based on our established membership criteria, oneworld connect enables us to link up with other airlines whose networks are relevant to a subset of our members, who cannot meet oneworld’s full membership requirements at this stage or who are not interested in full membership at present.
“This enables us and them to offer our customers more services and benefits across an even wider network and strengthen our relationship going forward, with a streamlined and rapid path to full membership later on where it makes sense for all parties.”
Fiji Airways CEO Andre Viljoen stated: “Fiji Airways is thrilled and honoured to be the first oneworld connectpartner globally. We are delighted to link Fiji, and the South Pacific to the world’s premier airline alliance and deepening our relationships in particular with Qantas, American Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific. This important step for our airline enables us to offer more services and benefits to our own customers along with the others in the oneworld family, to achieve a greater presence for our airline internationally and to build on the in-bound tourism that is so vital to our home nation and our region.”
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “As a oneworld founding member, it is great to see the alliance evolve to bring additional benefits to more customers and expand its joint network. We’ve worked closely with Fiji Airways for many years and are pleased to serve as its mentor as it comes on board as the first oneworld connect partner.”
American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker added: “As another oneworld founding member, American Airlines is excited to be playing our part in this latest key development for what has become the world’s premier airline alliance, now making access to the South Pacific more attractive than ever.”
British Airways Chairman and CEO Alex Cruz stated: “British Airways looks forward to developing links with Fiji Airways as a oneworld connect partner and sponsor, for the benefit of both our airlines, our customers and the wider oneworld community.”
Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg concluded: “Cathay Pacific was proud to play our part in founding oneworld 20 years ago and establishing it as the leading quality alliance – and we are proud today to be playing our part again in getting this exciting new membership platform oneworld connect off the ground, as a sponsor of our long-term code-share partner Fiji Airways.”
So, three of the Connecting Partner backers of this airline have frequent flier agreement in place at this time (BA and Fiji are exploring opportunities).
The benefits are very light (borderline non-existent) if you happen to be an elite member with an airline that is not one of the backers. One of the reasons in the future to go with one of the major programs within the alliance.
Not sure why Oneworld draws a line between Nadi and Santiago on the graphics that they use the market the alliance on the presentation? I am not aware of that there would be any flights between these two destinations (unless there was an announcement made today).
The only other airline that would probably fit this model in my mind is the Air Tahiti Nui that already has partnership in place with both AA and Qantas (and perhaps with other Oneworld airlines too).