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Oneworld May Be Getting Another (Big) Member

Alaska Airlines has held strong as one of the only bigger North American airlines to not join a major global airline alliance – but that may be about to change as the company hints that it might be joining the Oneworld Alliance, though whether it will join as a full-fledged member or not is still up for debate.

Alaska Airlines made a big announcement on Tuesday: It will most likely finally join the ranks of airlines associated with a major marketing alliance. The airline’s chief commercial officer told analysts that Alaska is thinking of joining the Oneworld Alliance—though not necessarily as a full-fledged member.

Eight of the 17 airlines Alaska has agreements with are part of Oneworld Alliance, so it makes sense fiscally to join. But the airline would likely join the Oneworld Connect program, which is a newer addition to the alliance specifically for smaller airlines that don’t wish to face all the larger fees of a full alliance membership.

“There’s a Oneworld Connect membership that we’re looking it,” Alaska’s chief commercial officer Andrew Harrison told analysts, reported by Skift. “The whole goal here is to ensure that when people in the cities we serve travel internationally they are on our partners so they stay in our program.”

One of the major goals to joining the alliance is that it allows loyalty members to stay on Alaska’s points program when traveling internationally.

“The benefit to Alaska Airlines with these global partners is when people start to think Alaska, they are starting to think global,” Harrison told analysts. “They are starting to make their plans around flying on our global partners. We are looking at ways to get more seamless.”

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