TAM Airlines and US Airways today officially completed their transition from Star Alliance to Oneworld.
Both carriers started offering Oneworld services and benefits from their first flights this morning.
The transfers are the largest single-day expansion for the airline alliance since its inception 15 years ago.
As a result, Oneworld now has just under 100 new destinations in its network, almost a 10 per cent increase.
Annual seat capacity has been expanded by 20 per cent, and passenger traffic has been boosted by nearly a third, adding approximately 120 million customers each year.
Sri Lankan Airlines will be the next airline to become a Oneworld member on May 1 (see news, March 7).
TAM's entry will help consolidate Oneworld's position in Latin America — LAN Airlines, TAM's partner in the LATAM Airlines Group, has been a full Oneworld member since 2000.
In addition, TAM has now added nearly 45 destinations within Brazil to the alliance's network, with its home base in Sao Paulo now acting as a hub in the southern hemisphere for Oneworld.
Meanwhile, having become a part of the American Airlines Group, US Airways is now one of the world's ten largest airlines. With both American Airlines and new recruit US Airways onboard, Oneworld has strengthened its position in the US, the world's largest air travel market.
It should be noted that the integration of the two US carriers has not been fully completed and, therefore, US Airways and US Airways Express will currently operate as Oneworld affiliate members under the American Airlines umbrella. During this time, both AA and US Airways will maintain their existing individual loyalty programmes.
US Airways' entry into Oneworld sees the addition of more than 50 destinations worldwide. While most of these are within the carrier's home turf (including key hubs in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington DC’s Reagan National), there are also two in Canada and one each in Ireland and Mexico.
Reciprocally, the two new members can now offer their customers travel options to each of the global regions through other Oneworld member airlines including:
- South America – LAN and now TAM Airlines
- North America – American Airlines and now US Airways
- Europe – Airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and S7 Airlines
- Middle East – Qatar Airways (the only one of the Big Three Gulf carriers to be part of an alliance), and Royal Jordanian
- Asia – Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Qantas
Prior to joining Oneworld, neither airline had partners in Australia or Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Connections and travel to these destinations are therefore much easier.
For frequent flyer programme members of both carriers, the switch from Star Alliance to Oneworld does not affect their tier status and all points/miles earned up to the point of entry have been retained.
New cards bearing the Oneworld logo have been posted to them and can be used immediately to accumulate and redeem points on all flights operated by Oneworld member airlines.
Likewise, the 140 million members of established Oneworld airlines frequent flyer programmes can earn and redeem wards as well as tier status points when flying on TAM and US Airways.
In addition, Black and Red Plus cardholders of TAM Fidelidade frequent flyer programme, as well as US Airways' Dividend Miles Chairman's Preferred members have been granted the Emerald status on Oneworld's tier programme.
Meanwhile, Oneworld has offered Sapphire status to both TAM Fidelidate Red and US Airways Dividend Miles Platinum and Gold Preferred cardholders.
The entry-level Oneworld Ruby status has therefore been designated for both TAM Fidelidade Blue and US Airways Dividend Miles Silver Preferred members.
Frequent flyer members who have been granted Oneworld Emerald or Sapphire status are now able to use more than 600 airport lounges worldwide offered by any member airline. When available, Emerald members will have access to the first class lounges, while Sapphire members can use the business class or frequent flyer lounges.
Being able to access any of the Oneworld member lounges is a significant new perk to US Airways passengers in particular, as American carrier lounges typically have less attractive offerings than those operated by international airlines from other countries, especially those of Asia.
Clement Huang and Graham Smith