Oneworld chief executive Bruce Ashby believes the multilateral alliances remain compelling even as more carriers pursue joint ventures.
Speaking to Flightglobal at the IATA AGM in Miami, he says that the growth in joint business arrangements has been a good thing, but does not threaten the alliances, which offer greater network reach.
“They are a way to deepen the co-operation of people who are in the same alliance, and I am completely in favour of that. But they don’t replace alliances and they don’t cover the whole world,” he says.
Ashby adds that joint ventures are also harder to market to customers, compared to the strong branding that the alliances have.
A number of Oneworld carriers operate in joint ventures with other member carriers, notably covering the major transatlantic, transpacific and Asia-Europe markets.
However some ventures have fragmented in recent years. Qantas ended its partnership with British Airways in 2012, in favour of a new joint venture with unaligned carrier Emirates.
Asked about further growth plans for Oneworld, Ashby says that there is an appetite to recruit new member airlines based in India and Africa. China is another possibility although it is serviced well by Cathay Pacific.
“We’ve never been eager to add members for the sake of adding members,” he says. “We’re much more interested in selecting the right members rather than a lot of them.”
The alliance is set to regain Aer Lingus as a member in the near term as a result of its takeover by IAG, which recently gained the support of the Irish government. IAG in January indicated that if it acquired Aer Lingus, it would seek to add the Irish carrier to its transatlantic joint venture with Oneworld partner American AIrlines and for it to rejoin Oneworld.