oneworld expects to recruit only a handful of additional carriers to the alliance, in order to prevent its becoming unwieldy, as the group prepares to accept three more members.
Limited to eight carriers for several years, oneworld’s membership will increase to ten with the pending entry of Royal Jordanian Airlines, Japan Airlines and Malev, and the withdrawal of Aer Lingus.
But while oneworld is keen to secure a mainland Chinese operator, and has indicated a desire to fill network gaps in Latin America, India and even Africa, the alliance is intending to keep tight control over its size.
Speaking during the IATA Annual General Meeting in Paris, oneworld managing partner John McCulloch said that complexity increases exponentially as membership increases.
“We don’t want to grow much bigger than 12 members,” he says. “You’re just building up pressure within the alliance for problems in the future.”
Rival Star Alliance has 18 full members, plus three regional partners. SkyTeam has ten members and five associate carriers. Both have other airlines in line to join.
Japan Airlines formally accepted an invitation to join oneworld ahead of the IATA meeting. The Japanese carrier, along with candidates Royal Jordanian and Malev, will enter the alliance in 2007.