Mexicana this evening became the 11th member of the Oneworld alliance, marking the end of an 18 month incorporation process for the carrier's ascension into the ten year old global airline group.
Coinciding with Mexicana's assimilation into Oneworld, which included a transition to the Amadeus Altea reservations platform, was a rapid expansion by Mexicana both domestically and internationally.
During its transition period to Oneworld Mexicana created and launched a new regional unit Link designed to operate 13 Bombardier CRJ200s, and introduced transatlantic service to London Gatwick and Madrid with Boeing 767-200s and Airbus A330-200s respectively. The carrier also undertook a fleet revamp of its Click low-cost unit through the replacement of its Fokker 100s with dual-class Boeing 717s.
Now that Mexicana has officially joined the alliance along with its Click and Link subsidiaries as affiliate members, the alliance's route map will be enlarged by 26 destinations. Overall Oneworld now serves roughly 700 destinations in about 150 countries through 8,000 daily flights.
Spanish carrier Iberia served as Mexicana's sponsor as it worked through the process of joining Oneworld. "Mexicana will considerably strengthen Oneworld's long established position as the leading airline alliance in the Spanish speaking world and Latin America," says Iberia CEO Antonio Vazquez.
To celebrate is official entry into Oneworld, Mexicana debuted both a mainline Airbus A320 and a Click Boeing 717 in the alliance's livery today at its maintenance base in Mexico City. Plans are underway to complete painting of the livery on one of Mexicana's 767s, which means Mexicana will have the Oneworld livery operating on regional, short-haul and long-haul routes.
Oneworld next welcomes Russia's S7 into the alliance in 2010. Alliance anchor member British Airways is serving as the carrier's sponsor.
The three remaining geographical holes for Oneworld include Brazil, China and India. Brazilian carrier TAM plans to officially join Oneworld rival Star Alliance during the first half of next year, while Air India las year also won approval to join Star. Air China is already a member of Star.
The fate of a key Oneworld member Japan Airlines (JAL) remains unknown as American Airlines and SkyTeam carrier Delta Air Lines are reportedly pursuing equity stakes in the ailing carrier. JAL's potential jump to SkyTeam could create a strategic gap for Oneworld in Asia.
Oneworld continues to defend JAL's key strategic position in the alliance, and warns a switch would be costly and cumbersome. "I think that JAL and its stakeholders recognize that an alliance switch would be burdened by excessive financial and regulatory execution risks during the critical initial phase of its restructuring," said American CEO Gerard Arpey during a recent analysts call.
Oneworld today also detailed upgrades to its product offering including a Spanish version of its round-the-world booking tool and an iPhone flight search application.
Additionally the alliance is debuting a mobile version of its website - m.oneworld.com - with full flight search capability, arrival and departure status and a currency converter.