Assuming it survives its current financial difficulties, Indian carrier Kingfisher Airlines will become part of the oneworld global airline alliance with effect from February 10, 2012.
Should Kingfisher Airlines survive its current financial turbulence, which has seen it grounding 15 aircraft in the past few days, it will be the first carrier from the Indian subcontinent to join any of the global airline alliances. Air India had been due to join Star Alliance earlier this year, but failed to meet the alliance’s joining conditions in terms of IT and service readiness and its induction was postponed indefinitely.
It will also be the first of three carriers to join oneworld in its biggest membership expansion drive for five years, with Air Berlin set to follow Kingfisher into the alliance shortly afterwards and Malaysia Airlines later in the year.
Kingfisher Airlines received its green light to join oneworld after successfully completing a thorough review of its readiness. The review was conducted by British Airways, which is sponsoring Kingfisher’s entry into the alliance, with the oneworld central team.
From 10 February 2012, Kingfisher will be offering oneworld’s full range of services and substantially expanding the alliance’s network throughout India, one of the fastest growing regions of the world for air travel demand.
Joining oneworld will strengthen Kingfisher Airlines’ competitive offering and its financial position, enabling it to offer customers an alliance global network served by partners which include some of the biggest airlines in the world.
Kingifisher’s membership in the alliance will extend oneworld’s global coverage to nearly 800 destinations in almost 150 countries. The oneworld network is served by a total of almost 8,500 departures a day, operated by a combined fleet of more than 2,250 aircraft carrying 305 million passengers a year and generating annual revenues of $94 billion.
With the addition soon of airberlin and later in 2012 Malaysia Airlines, the oneworld network will expand to more than 850 destinations.
“Kingfisher Airlines will expand oneworld’s network substantially in a key region of growing travel demand, with a carrier that matches our demanding requirements, while enabling Kingfisher Airlines to offer its customers a truly global network on quality partners,” says oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby. “We look forward to welcoming them to the oneworld alliance in February.”
“Kingfisher Airlines takes great pride in its track record for quality and innovation,” remarks Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya. “Becoming part of oneworld will be one of the most significant steps in Kingfisher Airlines’ history.”
Adds Mallya: “It will enable us to offer our customers a truly global network served by partners who include some of the best known and most admired airlines in the world, while our King Club frequent flyers will have more opportunities to earn and redeem mileage rewards and enjoy all their other benefits. It will also strengthen us financially, through revenues from passengers transferring to our network from our oneworld partners and the cost reduction opportunities the alliance offers.”
When Kingfisher Airlines joins oneworld, members of its King Club frequent-flyer program will be able to earn and redeem mileage awards on all oneworld partners – American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN Airlines, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and almost 20 affiliated airlines.
King Club Platinum cardholders will have oneworld Emerald status and the Indian carrier’s King Club Gold members will receive oneworld Sapphire status, gaining them access to more than 550 airport lounges worldwide offered by the alliance’s airlines. King Club Silver cardholders will have oneworld Ruby status.
Kingfisher Airlines’ King Club Platinum, Gold and Silver cardholders will soon be sent new membership cards, bearing the oneworld logo, to ensure they receive their alliance benefits from February 10.
Also from February 10, the 120 million members of the established oneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programs will be able to earn and redeem awards and tier status points and receive all other oneworld benefits on Kingfisher Airlines. (Frequent-flyer reciprocity between Kingfisher Airlines and LAN Airlines will be implemented shortly after Kingfisher Airlines joins oneworld because of LAN’s impending migration of its main information technology platform.)
Kingfisher’s network – currently encompassing 54 destinations and nine countries – will then be covered by oneworld’s full range of alliance fares and sales products.
The carrier will add more than 40 destinations to the alliance’s network, all of them in its India home, which is the world’s second-most-populous market and is forecast to be the world’s second-biggest economy within two decades. India’s middle-class population is expected to grow tenfold by 2025, to nearly 600 million.
Currently seven of oneworld’s established airlines – American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas and Royal Jordanian – serve five Indian gateways, in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Kingfisher Airlines was invited to join oneworld in June 2010 after gaining approval from India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation to become part of the alliance.
According to oneworld, Kingfisher’s alliance-implementation program has represented one of the most extensive projects in its history, with working groups covering some 35 streams of activity.
Projects are nearing completion to bring Kingfisher Airlines’ various internal processes and procedures into line with the alliance’s requirements, and extensive employee training and communications programs are now underway at Kingfisher Airlines and the alliance’s existing members, to ensure they are ready to provide oneworld’s customer services and benefits across the expanded alliance from February 10.
Meantime, Kingfisher has implemented frequent-flyer links with established oneworld partners American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and S7 ahead of joining the alliance and has signed codesharing agreements with British Airways.