TAM and US Airways officially join Oneworld

1 Apr 2014 by Clement Huang

TAM Airlines and US Airways have officially completed their transition from Star Alliance to Oneworld.

Both carriers started offering Oneworld services and benefits from their first flights earlier this morning, in what has become the largest single-day expansion for the airline alliance since its inception 15 years ago.

As a result of the entry, Oneworld can now boast an increase of almost a hundred new destinations in its network – a near-10 per cent increase. In addition, annual seat capacity has been expanded by 20 per cent, and passenger traffic has been boosted by nearly a third, adding roughly 120 million customers annually.

Specifically, each airline offers the alliance a number of benefits. TAM’s entry for instance helps consolidate Oneworld’s position in Latin America, especially considering the fact that 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, the newly-merged American Airlines/US Airways is now one of the world’s ten largest airlines by virtually all measures. With both carriers on board, Oneworld is now strongly positioned 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 its regional partners that are branded as US Airways Express will currently operate as Oneworld affiliate members and under the American Airlines umbrella. During this time, both AA and US Airways will maintain their existing individual loyalty programmes. The integration process is expected to be completed in late 2015.

US Airways’ entry into Oneworld has resulted in 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 mailed 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.

US Airways operates 19 lounges across the US, mostly in smaller cities such as Charlotte and Greensboro, and its merger with AA has given its passengers lounge access in key US destinations such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Its formal integration into Oneworld has added icing on the cake.

From now on, for instance, US Airways passengers flying from San Francisco International Airport are able to use Cathay Pacific’s first and business class lounge (depending on tier status), as well as the British Airways Terraces lounge.

With the Oneworld memberships of both TAM and US Airways having been formalised, all eyes now turn to SriLankan Airlines which will officially join the alliance on May 1. Business Traveller Asia-Pacific will be at the launch event on April 30 to bring you up-to-date news live from the ceremony.

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Clement Huang

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