The oneworld alliance is relocating its headquarters to New York City under new leadership, the latest move in oneworld's bid to establish itself as...

The oneworld alliance is relocating its headquarters to New York City under new leadership, the latest move in oneworld’s bid to establish itself as the world’s premier airline alliance.

According to oneworld, the move – from Vancouver on the west coast of Canada – will enable its central alliance team to keep its finger on the pulse of what it claims to be the world’s single biggest air travel market: New York’s airports are used by 110 million passengers a year. (Some might argue that London represents a rather larger market today than New York: London has six airports which offer airline service and together these airports now handle more than 130 million passengers a year.)

New York is served by more flights by more oneworld member airlines than any other city worldwide, with 10 of the alliance’s 14 existing and designate members flying to at least one of its airports. Oneworld airlines serve the city’s three main gateways of JFK, LaGuardia and Newark, as well as four other airports in New York State. New York is also one of American Airlines’ five cornerstone hubs, anchoring its US network, and a critical gateway for its services to Europe, Asia and Latin America.

As part of the transition, oneworld managing partner John McCulloch has informed the oneworld governing board that for family reasons he is not in a position to relocate, and after 10 years with the central alliance team – the last seven as managing partner – McCulloch has said now is as good a time as any for him to hand over.

McCulloch will be succeeded by airline-industry veteran Bruce Ashby, who joins the central alliance team on December 9 as oneworld chief executive. After 16 years working for U.S. carriers, latterly as senior vice-president alliances and then executive vice-president marketing for US Airways, Ashby has spent the past five years leading carriers in India and the Middle East, as chief executive of IndiGo and then of Saudi Arabia’s SAMA Airlines.

This is the official logo of the oneworld airline alliance, together with its member airlines as of December 2010

Premises for the new oneworld headquarters in New York have been secured at 2 Park Avenue, Manhattan.

These premises will also house the team managing the new transatlantic joint business launched in October by oneworld partners American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia. Oneworld says bringing the various functions together will maximise synergies between these key elements of the alliance, particularly in developing more new services and benefits for customers.

The 46,200-square-foot facility will also accommodate the New York offices of American Airlines, British Airways and a number of other oneworld member airlines.  Besides the 25-strong central oneworld team, up to 210 employees from across the alliance’s member airlines will be based there, in a largely open-plan office layout designed to promote collaboration across the alliance teams. The first of the member-airline employees should move in to the new premises in mid-summer 2011, according to oneworld.

“Our decision to relocate and consolidate offices in New York is another important accomplishment during a milestone year for oneworld,” says Gerard Arpey, chairman of the oneworld governing board and chairman and chief executive of American Airlines. “New York is a critical global hub for oneworld and a key focus of our transatlantic joint business. As we transition to a new home we also thank Vancouver for its support during oneworld’s first decade.”

The move to New York is the latest key step taken by oneworld in what the alliance says has turned into a breakthrough year for it. In 2010, the alliance has seen:

● The addition of S7 Airlines, Russia’s leading domestic carrier, in November;

● The signing of Indian carrier Kingfisher Airlines and Europe’s fifth biggest airline, airberlin, as members-elect;

● The launch of a transatlantic joint business among American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia after gaining long-awaited anti-trust immunity in both the USA and Europe;

● Approval from authorities in both the USA and Japan for a joint business between American Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL) covering their services North America and Asia, following JAL’s reaffirmation of its oneworld membership earlier this year and its deepening of co-operation with its oneworld partners;

● British Airways and Iberia remaining on track to complete their merger by the end of the year;

● LAN Airlines celebrating its 10th anniversary as a oneworld member on 1 June; and

● Oneworld adding both the Global Traveler “GT Tested 2010 Awards” Best Airline Alliance and World Airline Awards’ World’s Best Alliance titles to the World Travel Awards’ World’s Leading Airline Alliance trophies it has won for the past eight years.