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Oneworld Welcomes Smaller Airlines to “Connect”

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The oneworld alliance wants to bring new airlines into their network without the obligation of full membership. Fiji Airways will be the first airline to become a oneworld connect partner, extending interline partnerships with select alliance partners and enhanced benefits to flyers connecting with another airline.

Airline alliance oneworld will soon welcome new partners to their alliance, but without the requirement of full membership. The group announced Fiji Airways would become the first oneworld connect partner, an associate program of the 20-year-old alliance.

The newly launched program will target smaller independent airlines that wouldn’t necessarily fit full membership in a bigger alliance. To become a connect partner, the applicant must be sponsored by four full oneworld members. In the case of Fiji Airways, the alliance’s four charter members – American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas – sponsored membership.

As a partner, Fiji Airways will offer select benefits to oneworld flyers and elite members of an alliance frequent flyer programs. Alongside the associate’s four sponsor carriers, passengers can take advantage of through check-in, earning and redeeming frequent flyer points and access to lounges at certain airports. All oneworld elites will get access to priority check-in desks and priority boarding, regardless of which program they hold elite status in.

“With most of the world’s biggest airlines already signed up, global airline alliances have reached maturity,” Pekka Vauramo, chief executive of Finnair and oneworld governing board chairman, said in the press release. “In the future, oneworld will target as full members large airlines that have a significant presence in the alliance’s prime target market, providing connections between the world’s leading business centers.

“Meantime, oneworld connect enables us to bring together more airlines to complement the alliance’s global leaders, so customers can earn rewards and feel recognized while traveling even further.”

While Fiji Airways will be the first oneworld connect partner, their timeline to join as an associate member has not yet been announced. The alliance says they are also discussing future oneworld connect partnerships with airlines in “the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe.”

Neither SkyTeam nor Star Alliance currently have an associate program. SkyTeam’s only associate member, Copa Airlines, left the alliance in 2009, while Star Alliance is putting their focus on elite flyers by considering additional loyalty tiers.

 

[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]

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Phoenixtinct June 10, 2018

You're wrong. Star Alliance announced the Connecting Partners program quite a while ago. It currently has just 1 member - Juneyao Airlines. Their focus may have shifted but the program is still there. As soon as I saw oneworld connect, I immediately recognized the desire of OW to copy *A.