Airline alliance Oneworld is launching a new partner programme called Oneworld Connect, with Fiji Airways set to become the first carrier to join under the new scheme.
A date for Fiji Airways joining Oneworld in this new capacity will be announced “in due course”.
But what exactly is Oneworld Connect?
The initiative essentially enables Oneworld to bring on board airlines that serve regions not fully covered by the alliance’s existing members, but that also don’t necessarily meet the conditions required for full membership.
Explaining the concept, Oneworld CEO, Rob Gurney, said: “Oneworld’s current network of more than 1,000 destinations in 150 plus territories offers far-reaching global coverage, but there are still some regions where we would like to strengthen our presence further.
“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.”
If this seems at all familiar to travellers, the concept is similar to the Connecting Partner scheme that rival airline alliance Star Alliance launched in May last year. Shanghai-based carrier Juneyao Airlines was the first to join the alliance under this partnership.
With the joining of Fiji Airways as a Oneworld Connect partner, Oneworld will see seven new territories added to its network map – Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Samoa.
For travellers, the new Oneworld Connect concept means they now get access to a number of alliance benefits when flying with these new partners.
For starters, under the scheme travellers with Emerald, Sapphire or Ruby status in existing Oneworld airlines’ frequent-flyer programmes will be able to use priority check-in desks, where available, while Emerald and Sapphire members will get priority boarding.
In order for an airline to join as a Oneworld Connect partner, it needs to get sponsorship from at least three full Oneworld members – in Fiji Airways’ case, their sponsors included American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.
In addition to the above perks, passengers can enjoy particular benefits offered between partners and these sponsors, notably through check-in of bags and passengers, earning and redeeming of miles and status points, and select lounge access.
Note though that this second set of benefits will only be offered between Oneworld connect partners and their Oneworld sponsor airlines. In other words, travellers will need to be members of the frequent flyer programmes of AA, BA, Cathay and Qantas to be able to avail of these benefits.
Oneworld Connect partners’ networks will also be available for Global Explorer round-the-world fares.
“We are delighted to link Fiji, and the South Pacific to the world’s premier airline alliance and deepening our relationships in particular with Qantas, American Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific,” said Fiji Airways CEO, Andre Viljoen.
“This important step for our airline enables us to offer more services and benefits to our own customers along with the others in the Oneworld family, to achieve a greater presence for our airline internationally and to build on the in-bound tourism that is so vital to our home nation and our region.”
Fiji Airways currently flies to 21 destinations in 13 countries and territories, including key hubs for existing Oneworld members such as Sydney, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and – starting next month – Tokyo.