As Rob wrote on Thursday, Alaska Airlines is now a full member of the oneworld alliance with full British Airways Executive Club earn-and-burn opportunities.
To mark the occasion a short press conference was held with oneworld and Alaska Airlines CEOs Rob Gurney and Ben Minicucci. There wasn’t a lot of new information but they did have an interesting discussion regarding airline alliances.
Alaska Airlines is second airline to join oneworld recently, following on from Royal Air Maroc which jointed this time last year. This reversed the trend of airlines appearing to favour bilateral partnerships over airline alliances.
With all three major alliances now over 20 years old, the “challenge for [oneworld] is ensuring maturity doesn’t slip into obsolescence” according to Gurney. This is why oneworld announced deeper IT integrations and joint oneworld-branded lounges at its 20th birthday event in 2019.
Minicucci called Alaska’s decision to join oneworld in the midst of a pandemic “contrarian” but both he and Gurney agreed that airlines would be more dependent on alliances moving forward. Reductions in fleet size meant that “the ability to be able to offer a global network is going to be more dependent on partners than anytime before.”
By far the highlight of the evening was the Alaska Airlines Safety Dance, now configured as the ‘oneworld Global Safety Dance’ featuring a lot of awkward middle-aged airline CEOs breaking out their moves.
You’ll notice that British Airways is conspicuously absent from the frivolities …. Sean Doyle managed to dodge a bullet, I think.
oneworld lounges are still on track
oneworld CEO Rob Gurney wasn’t drawn out on the alliance’s lounge plans when I asked him. The first of oneworld’s joint airline lounges will still be Moscow, although the timetable has slipped slightly due to airport development delays.
“Ongoing discussions” continue with other airports and airlines. Could Manchester get a joint oneworld lounge now that British Airways has closed its lounge?
American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways all had long haul flights from the airport pre-covid and Aer Lingus has now joined them. There are also short haul flights on Finnair, Iberia and Vueling. It would make a lot of sense.