New blow for Kingfisher as Oneworld move put on hold

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Struggling Indian carrier Kingfisher Airlines' planned entry the Oneworld alliance has been put on hold to give it time to work on its troubled financial position.

The Indian carrier's implementation into Oneworld had been planned for 10 February, but the alliance and airline have now agreed to put the move into Oneworld on hold.

Oneworld chief executive Bruce Ashby said: "These are turbulent times for the airline industry in India and many other parts of the world. We have been working closely with Kingfisher Airlines over the past months and it has become increasingly clear recently that the airline needs more time to resolve the financial issues it is confronting before it can be welcomed into Oneworld.

"Will work with Kingfisher Airlines with the aim of setting a new joining date once it is through this current period of turbulence," he added.

Kingfisher Airlines chairman Vijay Mallya said: "In light of the many priorities centred around Kingfisher Airlines' recapitalisation efforts, we felt it prudent to defer our entry into the alliance for a little while. This will allow us the opportunity to focus on the issues at hand and we look forward to being part of the Oneworld alliance very shortly."

Kingfisher was to be Oneworld's first Indian member, but speculation over its entry into the alliance has increased in recent months as its financial concerns have deepened.

The announcement marks a double blow for Oneworld today, coming on the same day as its Hungarian member airline Malev was forced to cease flights. It comes just a day after Oneworld confirmed Air Berlin would formally join the alliance on 20 March.

It means a longer wait for the first Indian carrier to join a global alliance. Six months after Air India's long-planned entry into Star Alliance was suspended after it failing to meet the agreed minimum membership conditions.