Kingfisher Airlines becomes member elect of oneworld with British Airways as mentor

Kingfisher Airlines has officially become a member elect of the oneworld® alliance after its Chairman Dr. Vijay Mallya signed a formal membership agreement with all 12 of existing partners and members elect of the alliance.

Ahead of Kingfisher is Russia’s leading domestic carrier S7 Airlines which is expected to join the alliance later this year.

Kingfisher Airlines will bring 56 Indian cities to the oneworld alliance and in return will gain access to oneworld’s global coverage of more than 800 destinations in almost 150 countries.

A key integration point with the alliance will be King Club, Kingfisher’s frequent flier program (FFP). Access to an airline’s FFP database is many times a key demand from existing alliance members, but it’s also one of the prized information vaults for an airline with details of its most loyal customers. Long back, the then Swissair walked away from a Star Alliance membership rather than giving up its key FFP database. It will be interesting to see how much is Kingfisher forced to give up in return for membership of oneworld.

A key governmental hurdle i.e. permission from India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation was has been received by Kingfisher airlines. In fact industry sources indicate that “in-principle” approval was taken by the airline even before it signed an MOU for alliance membership back in February.

Membership of the alliance is key to generating additional traffic for the financial troubled Kingfisher, and it is pulling out all the stops to fast-track its membership and to join the alliance 18~24 months from now.

Kingfisher Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Vijay Mallya said

“Joining oneworld will clearly strengthen our competitive position still further. Now that Kingfisher Airlines has now become a member-elect of oneworld, we have moved one crucial step closer towards becoming a full-fledged member and our team will certainly do all that is necessary to ensure we complete the implementation programme smoothly and on schedule”

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of sponsor British Airways, added:

“We are very pleased to have gained regulatory approval so quickly from New Delhi to add Kingfisher Airlines to oneworld; and we intend to move ahead with its implementation just as speedily and smoothly. We very much look forward to welcoming India’s leading airline on board the world’s premier airline alliance.”

A top priority for Kingfisher is to synchronise of its IT, flight and distribution systems with those of other alliance members, a task that has repeated delayed the entry of national carrier Air India in to the Star Alliance.

A team of experts from alliance entry sponsor and mentor, British Airways and from the central oneworld team has just returned from visiting their Kingfisher Airlines counterparts in Mumbai and Delhi to set its joining programme in motion. The airline has passed its first alliance test — oneworld’s safety audit.

Alliance members will deepen relations with six members — American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Japan Airlines, and Royal Jordanian, sharing Kingfisher’s new premium passenger lounge at the soon to be opened T3 at New Delhi’s IGI airport.

British Airways and Kingfisher Airlines have also announced an code-sharing agreement with BA flight numbers being added to Kingfisher flights across the Indian sub-continent and Kingfisher flight numbers being added to British flights across Europe. Full details are expected to be announced by the end of June.

In addition to Dr. Mallya and Mr. Walsh, the ceremony today was attended by American Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive, and oneworld Governing Board Chairman, Gerard Arpe, Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Tony Tyler, Finnair Chief Executive Mika Vehviläinen, Iberia Chairman and CEO Antonio Vázquez, Japan Airlines President Masaru Onishi, LAN Airlines President Ignacio Cueto, Malév Hungarian Airlines Chief Executive Martin Gauss, Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce, Royal Jordanian Chief Executive Hussein Dabbas, member elect S7 Airlines Deputy Chief Executive Anton Erimen and oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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