Royal Jordanian is to join oneworld making it the first carrier from the Middle East region to enter a global airline alliance.
The Jordan-based airline will become a fully-fledged member at the end of 2006 and has already satisfied the initial criteria for membership. Work will now begin on connecting its IT systems to those of its new partners and aligning its services.
Currently, BMed is the only oneworld member serving Royal Jordanian's home market, with daily flights from the capital Amman to London Heathrow. Iberia is the only oneworld airline that has a code sharing agreement with the new member, but agreements are likely to follow with other members.
Royal Jordanian's membership will benefit passengers in the Gulf buying round the world tickets who will no longer need to travel into Europe to access the oneworld network; instead they will be able to travel via Amman to all points east into Asia.
Residents of northern Europe will be able to make stopovers on the Royal Jordanian network – for example, Tunis, Cairo, Damascus or Beirut – on their way to the Middle East and may be able to take advantage of special fares to the Gulf via Amman.
Existing members of oneworld are American Airlines, British Airways, Qantas, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, LAN, Finnair and Aer Lingus. Hungary's Malév signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2005 as a first step towards joining.
Report by Sarah Maxwell and Alex McWhirter