Fiji Airways Will Join Oneworld (With A Big Catch)

Fiji Airways already partners with Qantas, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines, in different capacities. I’ve written before about how redeeming Qantas points for Fiji Airways business class across the Pacific is a good ‘Plan B’ consideration.

If Fiji Airways was ever going to join a global alliance, oneworld would be the logical choice.

So it’s not surprising that they are doing so…

…sort of.

Oneworld Connect

Oneworld has 13 ‘full member’ airlines, such as American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways. There are then a further 30 ‘affiliate members,’ primarily the regional subsidiaries of full members, such as Cathay Dragon and American Eagle.

Yesterday at IATA’s Annual General Meeting in Sydney, oneworld CEO Rob Gurney announced that Fiji Airways will be joining oneworld as its first ‘Oneworld Connect’ member.

As Gurney explains it:

This enables us and them to offer our customers more services and benefits across an even wider network and strengthen our relationship going forward, with a streamlined and rapid path to full membership later on where it makes sense for all parties

So what is Oneworld Connect? Well for most oneworld customers it won’t actually mean much at all. When flying on Fiji Airways, oneworld Sapphire and Emerald members of all oneworld airlines will be able to use priority check-in and priority boarding.

That’s about it for now.

The idea is that this gives Fiji Airways, which is a fairly small airline, the chance to take the full step to oneworld membership, without the hefty price tag and conditions.

Fiji Airways’ CEO has said of the decision:

Fiji Airways is thrilled and honoured to be the first oneworld connect partner globally. We are delighted to link Fiji, and the South Pacific to the world’s premier airline alliance. 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

This is is similar to what Star Alliance did with Juneyao Airlines as a ‘Connecting Partner’ a few years ago.

American, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways

In order to become a Oneworld Connect members, Fiji Airways was required to be sponsored by three full members. Naturally their existing partners of Qantas, Cathay Pacific and American were keen to sponsor them, and British Airways has also stepped up as the fourth sponsor.

What it means for members of AAdvantage, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Asia Miles and Executive Club is far more significant. While these members with oneworld Sapphire or Emerald status will still enjoy the priority check-in and boarding given to other full oneworld members, members of these sponsor airline programs when flying Fiji Airways will also receive:

  • Luggage checked through to their final destination (i.e. if you were flying British Airways from London to Singapore and then Fiji Airways to Nadi)
  • Earning and redeeming frequent flyer points/miles in their sponsor program
  • Earning status credits/tier points/EQMs
  • Lounge access (for oneworld Sapphire and oneworld Emerald members)

Now admittedly given that Qantas, American and Cathay already partner with Fiji Airways their members may already have access to some of these benefits. But it is nice to have consistency between the programs and certainly a big benefit for British Airways Executive Club members who didn’t previously have any of these benefits.

There is no date set for the launch of these benefits, however I would not expect it to take as long as the path to full membership, which can take several years.

Bottom line

If you’re not a member of one of the four sponsor airlines loyalty programs, you may not notice much difference. But if you are an American, Cathay Pacific, Qantas or British Airways program member this is pretty exciting news, and a logical inclusion to the oneworld family.

I wonder if we will see Aer Lingus become the next Oneworld Connect member, as I imagine they would easily receive sponsorship by British Airways and Iberia due to their IAG ownership, they would just need to find another member to sponsor them as well.

Are you excited about Fiji Airways becoming a Oneworld Connect member?

Comments

  1. I know this is a dumb question and out of topic but does OMAAT have any further information about China Southern Airlines joining oneworld?

  2. @daniel. They are too closely tied with Skyteam and Air France and klm, with whom they have a joint venture Why would OMAAT have any other info ??

    Mind I think Skyteam would not miss China southern as their customer service is dire It is essentially non existent

    Meantime Qantas will commence a codeshare with Air France later this month

  3. Pekka stated that they’re in talks with airlines in Asia and the Americas, which makes me think Interjet will be next rather than Aer Lingus

  4. Does this mean that they will have the Oneworld logo on their planes? Will they fly a Oneworld livery as well?

  5. How does this news square with Ben’s contention that alliances are becoming progressively less important to the industry or to the individual strategies of the largest airlines?

  6. @James, reading the press release it seems that only 3 sponsors are required as a minimum… It’s just that BA also want to sponsor Fiji Airways for whatever reason.
    (Quote: “Each oneworld connect partner will need to have a minimum of three oneworld members as itssponsors to be initiated into the programme. [sic]”)

  7. I hope this new partial membership will also open the door for AerLingus (EI) and possibly even Vueling/Level (VY). EI was expected to join after being purchased by IAG (BA, IB & Co), however, this has not happened. Rumours were that cost was too high compared to benefits at least with some other alliance members (e.g. EI and S7 have virtually no common destinations other than a few holiday destinations in the Mediterranean Sea).

  8. I have flights from Miami to LAX (AA) then LAX to NAN (FJ) reverse on return on separate tickets as it was over $700 less than through tickets. Does this mean AA in MIA will check my bags through so I don’t have to transfer them myself in LAX.?

  9. @Bill: No, checking through on separate tickets is not even a stated benefit between full members. And the connect membership of FJ has only been announced, but is not effective as yet … So I would be very surprised if they go above and beyond the regular oneworld benefits for the connect members.

  10. The Oneworld website states that it’s three sponsors rather than four which is stated above.

  11. Aer Lingus will probably be sponsored by AY, AA and BA/IB then. That way they’ve the important metal neutrality for elites once EI joins the TATL JV.

  12. I traveled with FJ two years ago. It was an award travel ticketed by AA and I found that my AA elite status (Emerald) and AAdvantage# are both shown on FJ’s boarding passes. Maybe they already prepare this for many years?

  13. Aer Lingus will have no trouble finding another sponsor besides BA and Iberia : Qatar Airways is part owner of their parent company, IAG.

  14. Fiji is already partners with Cathay, but I’ve been told you can’t use Cathay miles on Fiji. Is that correct?

  15. Why is Aer Lingus yet part of One World yet they are a member of Star Alliance … they’ve been owned by IAG for a number of years now …. any timeline on their move?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* I consent to the collection of my name, email address, and content so that One Mile at a Time may manage comments placed on this site.