OneWorld announced this week that SriLankan Airlines is their newest member elect, and is expected to join OneWorld late next year.
Now, the first major frustration is just how long the process of joining an alliance can take. As I posted about last June, Malaysia Airlines is expected to join OneWorld, though that still hasn’t happened. Here they’re saying it will be 18 months before SriLankan joins OneWorld, and that seems to be the best case scenario.
That being said, this is a huge gain for OneWorld, if/when it happens. I think regional carriers are generally underestimated when it comes to alliances, especially ones that serve markets that otherwise don’t get much service.
I’ve flown SriLankan five times now, and they’re actually one of my favorite carriers. The service is very exotic, and while they might not have the most modern product, there’s something fun about flying with them.
In terms of their route network, this opens up several new destinations. For one, it opens up Colombo. While Sri Lanka isn’t at the top of most peoples’ list of places to visit, some of the lowest premium cabin fares in the world can be found out of Colombo, so this is great for positioning.
Furthermore, Sri Lanka is only an hour flight from the Maldives, and SriLankan Airlines has frequent service.
So this will be a great new option for travel to the Maldives, be it an award ticket, or the ability to credit miles to a OneWorld partner airline. I flew SriLankan last year from Delhi to Colombo to Male to Colombo to Mumbai, and it sucked not earning any miles. I can’t wait to either redeem miles for the same routing next time, or at the very least earn miles for it.
Oh, and there’s one other interesting thing about SriLankan Airlines. They win the award for most awkward lounge massage in the world. They offer complimentary 15-minute massages in their business class lounge in Colombo. However, expect them to literally have you take your clothes off in the lounge and be massaged in “public” while mostly undressed. Fun stuff…
(Tip of the hat to The Wandering Aramean)