Oneworld’s coup

JAL’s decision to join oneworld is a major coup for the alliance, and will see the group leapfrog SkyTeam in terms of revenue and more-or-less level pegging in terms of revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs).

A quick glance at 2004 figures suggests that, with JAL included, oneworld would have been around the 650,000 million RPK mark, just shy of SkyTeam’s 675,000 million figure. And in terms of revenue, oneworld would have brought in around $77.3 billion, compared with $73.6 billion for SkyTeam.

Oneworld is also closing the gap on Star, which had a 763,000 million RPK figure for 2004, and turnover of $98.5 billion.

The inclusion of JAL also fills a gap in terms of geographical coverage, providing a presence in North Asia. Indeed, oneworld is now tussling with Star for the title of most complete geographical reach, having already lined up Malev and Royal Jordanian to join the alliance over the next two years, providing a presence in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The move will also have ramifications within the alliance, which has traditionally relied on a collection of bilateral relationships. Will the sheer scale in terms of size and numbers see a more centralised oneworld, which already has a stand alone management team?

The inclusion of JAL alongside Cathay Pacific and Qantas also represents something of a geographical shift within oneworld, with the Asia-Pacific carriers no longer looking like the junior partners to the British Airways-American Airlines power bloc.

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