Fiji Airways is to join the Oneworld alliance under a new tier of membership known as “Oneworld Connect”.
Fiji Airways is the first airline to join Oneworld connect. The exact joining date is yet to be confirmed.
Its membership will be sponsored by American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.
Under this form of membership, many Oneworld benefits will only be offered by Fiji Airways to customers of these sponsoring airlines.
Oneworld Connect is a new form of alliance membership where the member airline offers a relatively limited range of benefits.
Some benefits are only offered to passengers of certain member airlines.
Benefits offered by Oneworld Connect airlines to all Oneworld passengers
– Priority check-In for Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers
– Priority boarding for Sapphire and Emerald frequent flyers
Benefits offered by Oneworld Connect airlines to passengers of sponsor airlines (eg BA)
– Through check-in of bags and passengers on the same ticket
– Earning and redemption of frequent flyer miles
– Earning of tier points / status credits
– Access to “select lounges at key airports for premium and top-tier customers” (this is not precisely defined)
Additional services may be offered on an airline-by-airline basis.
Joining an alliance is a significant commitment in terms of investment in IT and providing reciprocal frequent flyer benefits. This is clearly aimed at smaller airlines, including those that don’t have their own frequent flyer programmes.
Whilst is does allow more airlines to join the alliance and allow greater flexibility, it does introduce inconsistency in terms of membership benefits.
It’s also not clear what happens if a customer is travelling on a sponsoring airline but has Oneworld frequent flyer status through a programme of a non-sponsoring Oneworld member.
Prospective Members of Oneworld Connect
Oneworld have said they are in discussions with airlines around the world on joining Oneworld Connect.
No future candidates have been named. However, given that there has been no progress on Aer Lingus rejoining Oneworld after it was acquired by IAG it, along with fellow IAG group airline Vueling, seems a good candidate.
There are also other airlines such as Alaska Airlines which already co-operate with Oneworld member airlines. Other possibilities include Air Italy and Royal Air Maroc.
Fiji Airways has a fleet of 3 Airbus A330-200 and 1 Airbus A330-300 aircraft in a two class, business and economy, configuration. From America, it flies to Nadi International Airport from Los Angeles daily and from San Francisco twice weekly.
Fiji Airways and Fiji Link also have a fleet of Boeing 737 and ATR aircraft which serve a number of regional destinations such as Matei, Nausori and Savusavu.
The airline already co-operates with American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. Following today’s announcement, BA is expected to start codesharing on Fiji Airways flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco. As BA has already sought regulatory approval to do this, it could start imminently.