Feb 14, 2017: Oneworld is in advanced talks with certain carriers in Africa as the thirty-eight-member alliance seeks to plug holes in its global coverage, according to media reports. Oneworld's more prominent members include: Air Berlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, JAL - Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways, LATAM Airlines Group, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, and SriLankan Airlines.

Oneworld Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rob Gurney said its only member on the continent, at present, is South African shorthaul specialist and British Airways franchise operator Comair (South Africa). However, Oneworld's lack of African membership is offset by the level of connectivity offered there by existing members, especially Qatar Airways, he said.

Of Africa's largest carriers, Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, and EgyptAir are all members of Star Alliance while Kenya Airways is a member of SkyTeam. Royal Air Maroc has been linked to a Oneworld membership in the past given its increasingly close links to Qatar Airways.

Insofar as the other two major markets where Oneworld lacks a based presence are concerned, Gurney said it isn’t currently pursuing prospective members in India, where defunct carrier Kingfisher Airlines was once touted as a possible partner, or China where rivals Star Alliance have Air China and Shenzhen Airlines, and Skyteam has China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines. It would nevertheless “absolutely like to be working with airlines domiciled in those countries” on the right terms, Gurney said.

In order to further expand its global footprint, Oneworld is also looking at accepting budget carriers into its ranks without impacting the operations of its existing, full-service members.

It is recalled that Star Alliance introduced its Connecting Partner Model (CPM) programme in December 2015 wherein select budget airlines are allowed to enter into bilateral commercial agreements with select member airlines.

South African Airways' LCC unit, Mango Airlines, was the CPM's launch customer with China's Juneyao Airlines to join during the next quarter of the current calender year.

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