Fiji Airways has signed on as the first partner for the Oneworld alliance’s new Connect programme.

To commence at a later date, the programme will see Fiji Airways will offer passengers with Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire status priority services. Additional benefits, such as mileage earning and redemption will be available on services of its sponsoring partners Qantas, British Airways, American Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

The news was announced today at a press briefing on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Sydney.

“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,” says Oneworld chief executive Rob Gurney.

Speaking to FlightGlobal, Fiji Airways chief executive Andre Viljoen says that the partnership builds on already strong codeshare relationships it has with Qantas, American and Cathay, while discussions are underway with British Airways to establish a bilateral relationship.

He adds that the programme has been designed for less complexity and cost compared to full membership, and is better suited to smaller carriers.

“The whole idea of the connect programme is that it is a lot cheaper than the normal membership,” he says.

Oneworld governing board chairman and chief executive of Finnair, Pekka Vauramo, says that with the airline alliance now reaching maturity it will focus on more niche expansion opportunities.

“In the future, Oneworld will target as full members large airlines that have a significant presence in the alliance’s prime target market, providing connections between the world’s leading business centres,” he says.

Rival Star Alliance launched its own connecting partner programme in 2015, launching with Chinese carrier Juneyao Airlines last year.

Source: Cirium Dashboard