Swiss International Air Lines has today accepted an invitation to join the oneworld alliance.
It was formally voted on board as the ninth carrier in the leading international airline grouping after signing with founding oneworld member British Airways a memorandum of understanding to establish a wide-ranging commercial agreement. (For details of this, see separate BA-SWISS news release issued today.)
This complements co-operative links established during the past year with virtually all the alliance’s other partners. These include an extensive marketing alliance with American Airlines, covered by US anti-trust immunity, and code-sharing and/or frequent flyer links with Aer Lingus, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Qantas. LanChile is oneworld’s other existing partner.
Work will now begin on the necessary preparations for SWISS to be a fully-fledged part of oneworld. Connecting its IT systems to those of its new partners, training its employees to deliver oneworld products and customer support and the other necessary tasks will take several months to complete. From then, the airline will start offering oneworld services and benefits. This is expected to be during the early part of 2004.
Its election on board by the existing members was confirmed at a meeting in Zurich today with, representing all the alliance’s partners, the current Chairman of the oneworld Governing Board as Finnair’s Chief Executive, Keijo Suila, together with his British Airways’ counterpart Rod Eddington, American Airlines’ Executive Vice-President Marketing Dan Garton and oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch, with SWISS Chairman Pieter Bouw and Chief Executive Andre Dose.
oneworld Governing Board Chairman Keijo Suila said: “SWISS has been seeking for some considerable time to join the world’s leading international airline alliance. We are delighted we have been able to agree terms, allowing us to welcome it on board.
“Its addition enables oneworld to maintain our strategy of limiting our alliance to a manageable sized grouping of high quality partners while filling our need for a partner in central Europe. Its main Zurich base provides us with another highly attractive hub on the continent, serving one of the world’s most important financial centres. We look forward to extending oneworld’s services and benefits to its customers next year.”
SWISS Chief Executive Andre Dose said: “We are proud to be a member of oneworld, one of the world’s leading airline alliances. SWISS as well as oneworld clients will benefit from the enhanced network, the joint frequent flyer programmes and better transfer services in Zurich.”
oneworld was launched in February 1999 to provide its customers and carriers with services and benefits no airline can deliver on its own or bilaterally with another partner. These include:
Global coverage: oneworld is the most international of the global airline alliances, serving more countries than any of its competitors. Together its members currently offer travel to more than 560 destinations in 136 countries, with more than 8,500 flights every day - an average of one departure or arrival every five seconds around the clock. With SWISS’ Zurich base becoming a new oneworld hub, some of the alliance’s established partners expect to increase services there, providing new links and increased frequencies to other key oneworld airports around the world.
More rewards and recognition: Members of any oneworld airline’s frequent flyer programme enjoy all of the privileges that their status entitles them to - across all oneworld airlines, not just their own member airline. This means they can earn mileage awards and frequent flyer programme status points on all eligible flights and fares throughout the entire oneworld network, and redeem awards across that unrivalled worldwide network. Their priority check-in, seating and boarding privileges are also extended across all oneworld carriers.
More lounges: Top tier card holders of the airlines’ frequent flyer programmes can access more than 380 oneworld airline lounges worldwide, no matter on which of the oneworld airlines they are travelling.
Better value: oneworld has pioneered some of the most innovative, flexible and attractively priced alliance fares available, with more alliance products than all the other global groupings combined providing an unmatched choice for travel right around the world or one or more continents.
Superior quality: oneworld’s partners include some of the world’s biggest and best airlines, all with strong reputations for excellent and innovative customer service. The quality of the oneworld customer journey, from lounges to the in-flight product, helps passengers arrive at their destinations fresh, well rested, and ready to do business. oneworld was the first of the global alliance to commit to e-ticket interlining, which will be extended, on a phased basis, by the end of next year between all oneworld airlines.
Smoother transfers: Wherever possible, passengers connecting between oneworld carriers are checked right through to their final destination, with staff and airport signs providing assistance at any airports that might be unfamiliar.
Improved facilities: By working together, oneworld’s members can create far better facilities - airport check-in areas, lounges, ticket desks etc - than any of them could justify on their own, and at better unit costs.
Greater support: The alliance’s airlines employ more than a quarter of a million people across the globe to ensure oneworld customers travel safely, securely and comfortably every step of their journey.
For its member airlines, oneworld gives an additional competitive edge - beyond what any carrier can achieve individually or bilaterally - by helping them build revenue and reduce costs, thereby building shareholder value. In the past three years alone, oneworld’s existing members have benefited by more than US$2 billion through revenue generation and feed flowing from their various multi-lateral and bilateral agreements, and from cost-saving initiatives like shared facilities and joint procurement.
Its current eight members last year accounted for approaching 20 per cent of the entire world airline industry’s output, carrying some 220 million passengers on a combined fleet of almost 2,000 aircraft, earning revenues of US$50 billion. Between them, they employ 254,000 staff.
Swiss began operations in March 2002, born from the former Crossair. Under its new business plan, it will operate a fleet of 79 aircraft operating 388 departures a day, serving 71 destinations in 44 countries. Of these countries Cameroon will be a newcomer to the oneworld network. Eight of the airline’s destinations will also be new to the alliance’s map - Basel and Lugano in Switzerland, Douala and Yaounde in Cameroun, Berlin Templehof and Nuremberg in Germany, Benghazi in Libya and Thessaloniki in Greece.
Swiss is moving towards a workforce of 6,500 employees. It carried 11.6 million passengers last year and earning revenues of SFr4.4 billion (US$3.18 billion). Its main hub is at Zurich, with major operations also at Basel and Geneva.
It is 20 per cent owned by the Swiss government, with the rest of the shares held by other Swiss investors and cantons.
Earlier this year, the oneworld carriers serving the new recruit’s main hub at Zurich - American, British Airways, Finnair and Iberia - transferred their operations to new facilities in the airport’s Area 1, the same terminal used by Swiss, in one of the alliance’s biggest co-location moves yet. This will help ensure smooth transfers between flights by the existing oneworld partners and the latest member.
With Zurich as a new oneworld hub, members of the alliance expect to increase services to the Swiss city, making the country’s main gateway even more accessible to and from more parts of the world. oneworld’s established carriers currently operate a total of 34 flights most days to and from the airport:
* American Airlines - Dallas/Fort Worth and New York JFK, both daily.
* British Airways - London Heathrow six a day and Manchester twice daily, with one of these flights extending to Glasgow.
* Finnair - Helsinki twice daily.
* Iberia - Madrid three times a day, Barcelona twice daily.