The oneworld alliance will add SriLankan Airlines to its membership list next year.
The Colombo-based carrier’s election as a oneworld member designate was announced on the sidelines of IATA’s 2012 World Air Transport Summit, which opened in Beijing today.
SriLankan is will now progressively implement the steps needed to integrate it into the oneworld alliance, before joining as a full member late next year. Cathay Pacific will serve as SriLankan’s sponsor, supporting the airline through its implementation phase.
“With the world airline industry increasingly focused on alliances, SriLankan has carried out in-depth analysis of the options open to the airline as we enter this latest phase of our development. oneworld is very clearly the best option for us,” said SriLankan’s Chairman, Nishantha Wickremasinghe. “Joining the alliance will help put SriLankan more firmly on the global aviation map and vastly improve Sri Lanka’s connections with the rest of the world, with all that means for our country’s vital tourism industry.
“We look forward to completing all joining requirements as soon as possible,” he added.
SriLankan already codeshares with another future oneworld member, Malaysia Airlines, and today announced an in-principle agreement to codeshare with two other alliance partners, Royal Jordanian and S7 Airlines.
SriLankan Airlines currently operates a fleet of 21 aircraft and carried 3.5 million passengers last year on routes to 34 destinations in 22 countries across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Its addition to the alliance will bring three new destinations to the oneworld network – the southern Indian hubs of Kochi, Tiruchirapalli and Thiruvananthapuram. This will expand oneworld’s global coverage to some 850 destinations in more than 150 countries, served by a combined fleet of almost 2,500 aircraft operating approximately 9,000 flights and carrying almost a million passengers every day.
Cathay Pacific’s Chief Executive John Slosar commented; “SriLankan Airlines is a fine candidate for oneworld, with its growing reputation for customer service mirroring oneworld’s own focus – and with Sri Lanka’s economy growing faster than at any other time in the nation’s history, the timing is right. Cathay Pacific is delighted to be serving as its sponsor in joining oneworld.”
oneworld currently includes 11 airlines, including Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Japan Airlines, American Airlines and Qantas. Malaysia Airlines is also expected to join the group, while Kingfisher’s membership was put on hold following the Indian airline’s financial problems.
In terms of membership, oneworld is the world’s third largest airline grouping following the 25-airline Star Alliance and 16-member SkyTeam.