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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)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Sam says:

    Hi Rob, “this is a reference to campaign against the Middle Eastern airlines being waged by the three main US legacy airlines, including American Airlines” – what is happening here?

    • Polly says:

      Possibly Qatar getting government subsidies to keep them ahead of the game…unfair advantage and all that..

      • Rob says:

        The US airlines – all massively subsidised themselves in various ways, including 2 of the 3 being saved from bankruptcy in the last decade – feel the ME3 are state funded.

        • ChrisC says:


          Your tax breaks are absolutely evil and should be ended but mine are absolutely fine.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s a bit like the US complaining about Airbus getting State Aid (in the form of preferential loans) but the US’s subsidy of Boeing via (ahem) defence (ahem) research contracts is fine.

  • ankomonkey says:

    Rob, did your piece of cake include an airline name/logo? If so, what choice was left after the CEOs present presumably got their own (with Walsh, symbolically, guzzling down BA and Iberia, assuming Lingus didn’t get a spot as they’re not full members)?

  • where2travel says:

    Ah so that’s solved the mystery for me of what was going on at the top of my office building this morning. I saw the OneWorld logo sign and separate entrance line outside and wondered that the meeting was about.

  • ChrisC says:

    Sometimes the behind the scene changes are the most interesting so unless these are really top secret could you say something about the,?

  • mike says:

    when can we expect to see your review of your flight yest? am sure we are all eagerly waiting
    and will you be reviewing any hotels in Dubai?

    • Rob says:

      There is a bit of sequence to follow so Emirates F Suite will be late next week. I’m doing two hotel updates for tomorrow.

  • Andrew says:

    I hope this new One World app will force BA to stop being the only airline in the alliance to refuse to checkin bags for other airlines if they are on a separate PRN.

    • Lady London says:

      I think I’ve just seen a pig fly past the window.

    • Paul says:

      Most of the airlines in the alliance refuse to check through separate PNRs…

    • ChrisC says:

      AA don’t through check through on separate tickets either. So BA aren’t the only ones.

    • The Jetset Boyz says:

      It’s not a new oneworld app – it’s underlying functionality that each of the airline’s apps & websites will call upon when an intinerary includes sectors operated by other oneworld members.

  • Nigel the pensioner says:

    Not sure the single lounge concept will work. It will be huge, have to cater for multi national diets, and simply impractical by most airport designs without expensive new build. It may also mean no full service lounge in many locations that only one partner flies to – maybe this is the cost saving plan? Walsh?
    Airlines are turning away from the A380 for a reason!
    Joining one world should be like joining the common market – one rule for all. It seems an unnecessarily complicated procedure that leaves Customers stunned! Likewise leaving the common market should be as easy as leaving the one world alliance 🤣!

    • The Jetset Boyz says:

      The idea is that oneworld will develop lounges where no single airline has a massive presence, but have multiple airlines flying into the same airport, maybe with daily flights.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    If BA want some A380’s, there’s the 2nd market or is it too expensive to refurbish them? Most likely cheaper/better deal to buy new at discount and have it done right first time?

    • Rob says:

      BA only wants Rolls Royce A380 to fit with the rest. The first batch of A380’s (the Singapore ones) are also overweight and not fuel efficient.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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