oneworld celebrates its 20th anniversary

The CEOs of oneworld® member airlines met in London to unveil a radical transformation of the global alliance as it marks the 20th anniversary of its launch.

The moves are designed to increase the value that oneworld delivers to customers and to its member airlines as it enters its third decade while also reflecting the substantial changes in the marketplace and the industry since oneworld originally took off on Feb. 1, 1999.

oneworld’s transformation includes:

  • A new oneworld digital platform that will, as it is progressively rolled out, bring to life the alliance’s core promise of seamless connectivity for customers flying on multi-sector, multi-airline journeys, via the convenience of their preferred member airline’s mobile app or website, without having to download any additional app or enter more log-in credentials.
  • An increased level of alliance co-location projects at a number of key airports around the world with plans to unveil the first oneworld branded, developed and managed lounge later this year.
  • A fresh approach to corporate sales, enabling oneworld to respond much faster to requests for alliance contracts, which currently generate $1 billion a year for member airlines. Since trials of the new process began six months ago, revenues have risen 10 percent. Dozens of the world’s biggest multinational corporations have signed corporate accounts with the alliance rather than a series of individual airline deals.
  • A revised process for prospecting potential new members. The first airline to join as a result will be Royal Air Maroc— oneworld’s first full member recruit for six years and its first from Africa – next year.
  • The alliance’s first new membership platform, oneworld connect —designed with smaller, regional airlines in mind and with Fiji Airways’ entry as the first partner to join in this capacity – will be completed by the end of March. Talks are progressing with other airlines interested in signing from the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, enabling the alliance to further spread its wings globally.

These changes are reflected in a sweepingly different brand positioning for oneworld, encouraging passengers to “Travel Bright” – complete with a new oneworld.com website, both unveiled today.

What the CEOs say

oneworld CEO Rob Gurney said: “In the two decades since oneworld was launched, the industry and consumer behaviors have changed fundamentally. Most of our member airlines have undergone comprehensive restructuring. Some have merged. When oneworld first took off, hardly any airline offered online bookings. Smartphones were in the future. Social media did not exist. Airline fares included everything. Low-cost carriers were in their infancy.

“Since then, global alliances have grown greatly in terms of membership but, to be frank, they have failed to keep pace with the changes that their members, the industry at large and the marketplace have experienced. At oneworld, we are making up for that. As we enter our third decade, we are undergoing a radical transformation with a host of fresh initiatives to further strengthen the relevance of the alliance to our member airlines and our customers.”

American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker noted: “As oneworld celebrates its 20th anniversary, we are very pleased with how the alliance is positioned – both today and for the future. Together, oneworld member airlines have a footprint that is far larger than American could ever have on its own. This additional connectivity is tremendously valuable to our customers and our team members and it is important for our business. We are excited about the future of oneworld and our continued partnership with some of the leading airlines in the world.”

oneworld Governing Board Chairman and Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce noted: “Qantas was one of the airlines that founded oneworld 20 years ago and we’ve seen it evolve into the leading alliance in the sky.

“In some ways, oneworld represents a team of rivals, given several members are direct competitors in various regions. For two decades it’s been able to bring together the best carriers, lounges, frequent flyer programs and networks offer people a much smoother travel experience. Now, as the alliance enters its third decade, we are stepping up that cooperation and modernizing how we work together to make oneworld even more relevant to international travelers and to its member airlines.”

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “British Airways hosted fellow founding oneworld members in London when we launched the alliance two decades ago and it is an honor to welcome this greatly expanded family back to our home city in our own centenary year to celebrate our alliance’s 20th anniversary. Global alliances need to evolve to remain relevant in this fast-changing industry and that is just what oneworld is doing now.”

Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg remarked: “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 transforming the alliance, moving forward to deliver more benefits both for our customers and our fellow member airlines as the alliance flies into its third decade and beyond.”

About oneworld

oneworld was launched on Feb. 1, 1999 by founding members American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas. Since then, they have been joined by Finnair and Iberia, on Sept. 1, 1999, then LATAM (at that time LanChile) on June 1, 2000; Japan Airlines and Royal Jordanian on April 1, 2007; S7 Airlines on Nov. 15, 2010; Malaysia Airlines on Feb. 1, 2013; Qatar Airways on Oct. 30, 2013; and SriLankan Airlines on May 1, 2014. Royal Air Maroc was invited into the alliance in December and is on track to join during 2020. Around 30 airlines linked to the alliance’s full members are oneworld affiliate members, offering its full range of services and benefits. Fiji Airways was introduced as the first oneworld connect partner in December 2018, offering a subset of the alliance’s services and benefits, and is on track for full implementation next month. Collectively, these airlines now:

  • Serve 1,100 airports in 180 territories with 14,000 daily departures
  • Carry almost 550 million passengers a year on a combined fleet of 3,500 aircraft
  • Generate $135 billion annual total revenues

Since oneworld was launched its members have boarded a total of 7 billion customers — equivalent to today’s entire global population.

oneworld member airlines work together to consistently deliver a superior, seamless travel experience with special privileges and rewards for frequent flyers, including earning and redeeming miles and points across the entire alliance network. Top tier members (Emerald and Sapphire) enjoy access to more than 650 airport lounges and are offered extra baggage allowances. The most regular travelers (Emerald) can also use fast track security lanes at select airports.

oneworld holds more “best airline alliance” awards than its competitors combined:

oneworld awards

Key statistics from oneworld’s first 20 years (all dollar figures are U.S.)

At launch in 1999 Latest full year Increase % Cumulative total
Number of oneworld member airlines 5 13 + 1+11 n/a n/a
Number of airlines in global alliances 10 64 n/a n/a
Member airlines’ passenger revenue $38.9 billion $107.8 billion 173 $1,380 billion
Interline revenues within alliance 1 billion 5.5 billion 450 57 billion
Revenues from corporate sales managed by oneworld 0 1 billion n/a 7.3 billion
Alliance fare product revenues 10 million 290 million n/a 6.9 billion
Destinations served by oneworld 632 1,100 n/a n/a
Territories/countries served by oneworld 138 180 n/a n/a
Daily departures by oneworld members 6,170 14,000 n/a n/a
Passengers boarded by oneworld members 177 million 536 million 203 6.7 billion
Total industry global passenger carryings 1.56 billion 4.0 billion 156 n/a

1Plus one oneworld connect partner and one full member elect

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