Oneworld is launching branded lounges and upgrading its technology to allow customers to check-in and obtain boarding passes online for connecting flights as part of a “radical transformation”.
The global giant — whose 13 full members include American Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways — is celebrating its 20th anniversary by updating ito reflect the changes that have taken place over the past two decades.
This includes a range of new initiatives and a brand repositioning that encourages passengers to “Travel Bright”.
Passengers will see the progressive rollout of a new digital platform that aims to “bring to life the alliance’s core promise of seamless connectivity for customers flying on multi-sector, multi-airline journeys”.
More than 8 million passengers a year make journeys that involve connections between oneworld airlines and until now have had to check-in for multiple sectors at a desk.
The new platform will allow them to use their preferred member airline’s mobile app to check-in, obtain e-boarding passes for connecting flights, track their baggage as well as receive information and updates on their flights.
Future services will include full seat selection and payment, the ability to pay for additional baggage as well as the locations of lounges and priority lanes.
Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways will be the first airlines to connect to the platform and other airlines will be added in the next year to 18 months.
The alliance is also looking to boost the number of airports at which its airlines are co-located in the same terminal and plans to unveil the first oneworld branded, developed and managed lounge later this year.
Oneworld chief Rob Gurney said the aim of the branded lounge would be to offer a bigger and better facility than could be offered by airlines individually.
Gurney said a number of airports were being considered for the first oneworld branded managed lounge with the location due to be unveiled later in 2019.
Key airports where colocation activities underway include Beijing Daxing, Sao Paulo, London Heathrow and Frankfurt.
“Oneworld aims to bring its member airlines operating at all airports worldwide together under one roof, to smooth transfers for passengers connecting between different carriers’ flights, wherever the opportunities are available and wherever it makes sense,” Gurney said.
“We are working on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities at some of our most important gateways in Asia, the Americas and Europe with the aim of delivering the best experience for customers at each of these locations.”
On the business front, oneworld will respond much faster for requests for alliance contracts as opposed to a series of individual airline deals. Alliance contracts generate $US1 billion a year and since trails of the new process began six months ago risen 10 percent.
Other changes include a revised process for prospecting new members that will next year see Royal Air Maroc become oneworld ’s first full member recruit in six years and its first from Africa.
And there is progress with oneworld connect, a membership designed for smaller and regional carriers that launched in 2018 with Fiji Airways as its first member.
One world says the connect platform will be completed by the end of March and talks are progressing with other airlines from the Americas, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.
Gurney said the industry and consumer behavior had changed in the two decades since the launch of the alliance.
“Most of our member airlines have undergone comprehensive restructuring. Some have merged. When oneworld first took off, hardly any airline offered online bookings. Smartphones were in the future. Social media did not exist. Airline fares included everything. Low-cost carriers were in their infancy.
“Since then, global alliances have grown greatly in terms of membership but, to be frank, they have failed to keep pace with the changes that their members, the industry at large and the marketplace have experienced.
“At oneworld, we are making up for that. As we enter our third decade, we are undergoing a radical transformation with a host of fresh initiatives to further strengthen the relevance of the alliance to our member airlines and our customers.”
The alliance currently serves 1100 airports in 180 territories with 14,000 daily departures. It carries almost 550 million passengers a year on a combined fleet of 3500 aircraft and generates $US135 billion in annual total revenues.