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What I learned at oneworld’s 20th birthday event

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oneworld held a major media event in London on Friday morning to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the airline alliance.  All 13 CEO’s were meant to attend and most of them did make it, including the heads of BA, American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Qantas (got to give Alan Joyce credit for that!), Cathay Pacific and Finnair.

Obviously the key question you want to ask is “was there a birthday cake?”.  And there was!

I got a slice too ….

I won’t go into everything that was covered because a lot of it involves ‘behind the scenes’ changes that don’t impact you as a customer.  Here are things you might want to know:

As we have covered on HfP before, Royal Air Maroc will soon become the first African member of oneworld

oneworld is to launch its own airline lounges.  The first of these will be announced in June but already appears to be signed.  This will allow airlines such as BA to close their own facilities and become partners in bigger lounges in core gateway airports.

oneworld is speaking to Heathrow about co-locating the oneworld airlines in one facility when the third runway opens.  Alliance-wide co-location deals are being done in conjunction with new terminal developments in Sao Paulo, Beijing and Frankfurt.

oneworld has developed a new IT platform which allow you to manage your entire oneworld trip using the app or website of ANY oneworld member.  This means that you could manage a Qantas booking from inside the BA app, including checking in and issuing a mobile boarding pass.  This is slowly rolling out and all airlines should have adopted it within 12-18 months.  There will be no need, in theory, to have multiple oneworld airline apps on your phone.

A revised oneworld logo is launched today with the ‘travel bright’ strapline – see below:

As usual with these events, the Q&A was more insightful than the main presentation.  These are the highlights you will find relevant:

The Qatar Airways CEO said that the airline will remain in oneworld ‘if they can resolve the differences they have’.  This is a reference to campaign against the Middle Eastern airlines being waged by the three main US legacy airlines, including American Airlines.  (My personal view is that, given the major shareholding that Qatar Airways has in BA’s parent company, Qatar Airways and British Airways would retain a frequent flyer relationship even if Qatar Airways left the alliance.)

There is a ‘very realistic’ chance of Aer Lingus joining oneworld as a ‘oneworld connect’ member, said IAG’s CEO Willie Walsh.  The new ‘oneworld connect’ framework – of which Fiji Airlines is the first member – offers the low level of complexity which Aer Lingus would prefer, since it only requires full commercial ties with three other oneworld airlines and not the entire alliance.

oneworld 20th anniversary press conference

British Airways would love to buy more A380’s said Willie Walsh.  Customers like them and the airline likes them.  Airbus has been told the price that BA is willing to pay but, so far, they are not willing to meet it.  This issue is ‘live’ again because Airbus has confirmed this week that Emirates is looking to cancel some of their A380 orders and switch to A350’s, leaving the A380 production line looking worryingly bare.

China Southern is not joining oneworld despite leaving SkyTeam recently.  The airline is, however, is discussions with a number of oneworld airlines over bilateral partnerships and has already agreed a modest codeshare deal with British Airways.

It was an interesting morning and good to see all of the airlines, especially Qatar Airways and American Airlines, putting on a friendly face together.  The picture above shows IAG’s Willie Walsh and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce cutting my slice of cake.


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Comments (83)

  • Deb says:

    Do women not enter airline management or is it just that they don’t get to the top? I’m very puzzled by this after seeing these photos.

    • Doug M says:

      Old white men running companies, who’d have thought. My best guess for a woman in a senior position would be at Qatar 🙂

      • ChrisC says:

        Not One World but the Chief Exec of Air France is a woman.

        Anne Rigail was appointment ted last December.

  • Steve says:

    When the third runway opens. Ha ha ha, good one! Know any other jokes? It will categorically NEVER happen. And I’m not saying that as I’m against it because I’m all for it but it will never be built iin my life time and I’m guessing I have c. 60 years left!

  • Alex Sm says:

    Did S7 CEO or equivalent attend? Would be interesting to know OW thoughts re Russian market

  • Jamie says:

    The difficulty will be on the lounge asthetics. Most (all?) airlines have a customer facing brand and identity that taps onto local cultures to create relevance to the customers. They use this brand identity when designing their lounges. Oneworld is a more corporate, cold brand – they will need to find someway to create personality in their lounge design if they want them to be relevant. That’s a problem the StarAlliance lounges have not solved.

  • MarkZ says:

    From a corporate governance point of view, what authority does Willie Walsh have to speak on behalf of BA? He is not listed as a director of BA, and he is not on the board of BA. (Not sure about any similar relationship with Iberia, Aer Lingus et al.) Or, call me Mr Cynical, did Willie form IAG with the express intention of moving from running one airline with corporate responsibility to running as many as possible as puppet master without any responsibility at all?

    • Rob says:

      No more than any of company CEO controls what the heads of his subsidiaries do.

  • GRK says:

    I think there is an element of cynicism or naivety in this note , unless Mark lives in a utopia world WW appoints these CEOs , whilst they report to their respective boards : it’s very clear who appointed them and they sing from the same sheet : quite obvious in the corporate world .

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