Kingfisher Airlines said it has signed an accord to join a global alliance among 11 carriers called Oneworld and has filed an application with the Civil Aviation Ministry for necessary approvals.
The process to bring any airline on board the Oneworld would normally take around 18 months and Kingfisher hopes to start flying as part of this global pact from next year, said a company statement.
The move comes against the backdrop of state-run Air India, announcing its decision in 2006 to join a rival interline pact, the Star Alliance.
“Becoming part of Oneworld would be one of our most significant steps so far — and is right in line with our vision to become one of the world’s top airlines,” Kingfisher chairman Vijay Mallya said in the statement.
“It will also strengthen us financially, through revenues from passengers transferring to our network from our Oneworld partners and the cost reduction opportunities the alliance offers.”
Global interline packs like Oneworld and Star Alliance entail several benefits to member carriers like improved product offering, better service standards, access to new markets and premium customers and partnership with leading global carriers.
The pacts also allow sharing of airport lounges and synchronisation of flight schedules, which will permit seamless travel for a passenger on a single air ticket, even if it requires flying several carriers on a single journey.
Kingfisher’s move will add 58 cities to the Oneworld map, all of them in India, and also expand its network to 800 destinations in 150 countries. The combined fleet size will be of 2,350 aircraft, operating some 9,000 flights a day to ferry 340 million passengers annually.
Seven Oneworld members American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas and Royal Jordanian already serve five gateways in India between them — Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
Its other members are Iberia, LAN, MalHungarian Airlines and Mexicana.
“Kingfisher Airlines is an ideal fit for Oneworld. It has a strong focus on customer service and its network expands what the alliance currently offers,” said Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways, which is sponsoring the Indian carrier’s entry.
Kingfisher was launched in 2005 and now has an average of 383 daily departures. It carried 10.9 million passengers during 2008-09 with a share of 27 per cent of the domestic Indian air travel market.
It launched its first international routes in September 2008 and now serves the Oneworld hubs of Bangkok, Hong Kong, London Heathrow and Singapore. This apart, it also serves Colombo, Dubai and Dhaka, flying to 70 destinations — 63 of them in India.