SriLankan Airlines is to join oneworld, adding one of Asia’s fastest growing airlines to the world’s leading quality airline alliance.
A senior delegation from the oneworld global airline alliance, led by CEO Bruce Ashby visited Colombo last Friday as SriLankan Airlines starts its preparations to join the group, following its election on board earlier this week.
The visit came just days after SriLankan Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe and Chief Executive Kapila Chandrasena joined their counterparts from oneworld’s 11 established member airlines to announce SriLankan’s candidacy, in Beijing on June 11, as the leaders of the world airline industry gathered for the 2012 International Air Transport Association World Air Transport Summit.
The oneworld group which was in Colombo included the alliance’s VicePresident Membership and Customer Experience Dennis Tierney, based with Ashby in New York, and Vice-President Corporate Communications Michael Blunt, based in London. Joining them, representing Cathay Pacific Airways, which is serving as SriLankan’s sponsor into oneworld, is its Regional General Manager Tom Wright, flying in from Delhi.
During their visit, they met with the senior team at SriLankan and employees across the airline and senior politicians, travel agents and key customers.
oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby said, “For any airline, joining an alliance is one of the biggest projects they will ever undertake, impacting virtually every area of their business and supported by one of their most extensive communications programmes. Our visit today is aimed at helping give SriLankan the very best start across all these activities – besides extending to the airline, its workforce, their customers and other key stakeholders the warmest of welcomes to oneworld.”
SriLankan is expected to be implemented into oneworld late next year, flying alongside some of the biggest and best brands in the airline business.
When SriLankan joins oneworld, it will become part of an alliance of 13 airlines serving between them more than 860 destinations in 150 countries, operating a combined fleet of almost 2,500 aircraft making some 9,000 flights and carrying almost a million passengers every day, generating annual revenues of more than US$ 100 billion.
This will make it easier and smoother for SriLankan’s customers to fly all over the globe – and for business people and tourists from every continent to reach Sri Lanka.
The 200,000 members of SriLankan’s FlySmiLes frequent flyer programme will be able to earn and redeem rewards on any of oneworld’s other carriers, with top tier members able to use any of the group’s 550 plus award-winning airport lounges, and its network will be covered by oneworld’s market leading range of alliance fares.
At the same time, the 120 million frequent flyer cardholders of oneworld’s established airlines will be able to earn and redeem rewards when flying on SriLankan.
SriLankan already code-shares with oneworld member designate Malaysia Airlines – and earlier last week announced agreement in principle to code-share also with oneworld partners Royal Jordanian and S7 Airlines, smoothing travel for its customers to and around South East Asia and the Middle East. It expects to develop similar links with other oneworld partners in the coming months.
Two established oneworld member airlines currently serve Sri Lanka – Cathay Pacific from its Hong Kong base daily, and Royal Jordanian, from its Amman home thrice a week. Its main city Colombo is also on the networks of oneworld member elect Malaysia Airlines. Opportunities for increasing the alliance’s coverage of the country will be explored as SriLankan prepares to join.
SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe said, “The world airline industry is increasingly focused on alliances, with almost 75 percent of full service, scheduled airline capacity now allied to the global airline groups.
“SriLankan has carried out in-depth analysis of the possibilities open to us against this background, supported by leading independent experts and oneworld is very clearly the best option for us.
“Joining the alliance will enable SriLankan to offer significantly more value and benefits to our customers than we can on our own, making us more competitive, helping strengthen our financial position and put our airline more firmly on the global aviation map.”
“It will also vastly improve our country’s connections with the rest of the world, with all that means for our country’s vital tourism, manufacturing and other industries.”
SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Kapila Chandrasena added, “As an airline highly focused on quality service, we are extremely proud to have been invited to join the highest quality alliance with the best airline partners offering a global network that best complements our own.
“The joining programme will be one of the biggest projects our airline has ever undertaken, but the prize at the end of this journey – flying alongside the highest quality group of airlines in the skies, with all the benefits that will generate for SriLankan and Sri Lanka – will make it more than worthwhile. We look forward to completing all joining requirements as soon as possible.”
oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby concluded, “oneworld’s aim is to be the first choice airline alliance for the world’s frequent international travellers. In SriLankan Airlines, oneworld is pleased to welcome a highquality airline that will enhance oneworld’s network and product offerings in one of the world’s fastest growing regions for air travel demand.”