Airline alliance Oneworld has launched a new platform that will allow carriers to become members through sponsorship.

Oneworld Connect partner airlines will be able to offer the alliance’s frequent flyers a selection of benefits, including priority check-in for Emerald, Ruby or Sapphire members and priority boarding for those with Emerald or Sapphire status.

Passengers will also be allowed through check-in (including their checked bags) for journeys that include connections between Connect members and their Oneworld sponsors, as well as the ability to earn and redeem frequent flyer rewards and access to select airport lounges for those in first or business class.

In order for airlines to become a Connect partner, they must receive sponsorship from a minimum of three alliance members and will be required to maintain IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification, an internationally recognised assessment of an airline’s operational management and control systems.

 The first Oneworld Connect partner is Fiji Airways, which has been sponsored by American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas. The Australian carrier will also mentor the airline through its implementation process.

Pekka Vauramo, CEO of Finnair and governing board chairman of Oneworld, said: “In the 20 years since Oneworld’s conception in 1998, global airline alliances have expanded their breadth to the extent that they now account for 60 per cent of total industry revenues and capacity globally, and 70 per cent of revenues between the world’s top 125 business city airports.

“With most of the world’s biggest airlines already signed up, global airline alliances have reached maturity. 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 centres. [In the] meantime, Oneworld Connect enables us to bring together more airlines to complement the alliance’s global leaders, so customers can earn rewards and feel recognised while travelling even further.”

Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney commented that the new platform is also designed to extend the alliance’s presence to new markets. “With fewer potential new candidates available to recruit based on our established membership criteria, Oneworld Connect enables us to link up with other airlines whose networks are relevant to a subset of our members, who cannot meet Oneworld’s full membership requirements at this stage or who are not interested in full membership at present.”

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