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oneworld tops breakthrough year with Big Apple move

oneworld has unveiled plans to relocate its headquarters to New York in a move that aims to reinforce its position as the world’s leading airline alliance, as well as enhancing collaboration between members.

The relocation to Manhattan comes in what has proved a breakthrough year for the alliance, culminating in it winning “World’s Leading Airline Alliance” at the World Travel Awards 2010 Grand Final.

The victory comes on the back of oneworld members British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines launching a transAtlantic joint venture, with AA also teaming up with Japan Airlines to deepen cooperation on transPacific routes.

The new HQ will enable oneworld’s central alliance team to keep its finger right on the pulse of the world’s single biggest air travel market, with New York’s airports serving 110 million passengers a year.

(oneworld ad campaign on NYC subway - the alliance will be based in the Big Apple from next summer)

The new office in Manhattan’s Park Avenue will also house the team managing the new transAtlantic joint business launched in October by oneworld partners American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia. Bringing these various functions together will maximize synergies between these key elements of the alliance, particularly in developing more new services and benefits for customers.

As part of the transition, oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch has informed the oneworld Governing Board that for family reasons is unable to relocate from Vancouver.

He will be succeeded by airline industry veteran Bruce Ashby, who joins the central alliance team as oneworld Chief Executive.  After 16 years working for U.S. airlines, latterly as Senior Vice-President Alliances and then Executive Vice-President Marketing for USAirways, Ashby then spent the past five years leading carriers in India and the Middle East, as Chief Executive of IndiGo and then of SAMA Airlines.

(2010 has been a breakthrough year for oneworld, including a new transatlantic tie up between American Airlines, Iberia and British Airways)

Gerard Arpey, Chairman of the oneworld Governing Board and Chairman and Chief Executive of American Airlines, said: “On behalf of our entire oneworld Governing Board, I want to thank John McCulloch for his leadership, commitment and pivotal role during the past decade in positioning oneworld firmly as the world’s premier alliance. We are equally fortunate that John can pass the baton to Bruce, who brings a track record of tremendous experience, success and knowledge of our industry to oneworld as we continue to strengthen its competitive position and service to customers.”

John McCulloch said: “It’s been a real privilege to be part of oneworld virtually from its birth to positioning it firmly as the world’s leading airline alliance. The relocation of our central alliance team to the world’s biggest airline market at this stage in oneworld’s evolution makes clear sense. Personal circumstances prevent me from being part of that future, but I am committed to achieving a full and seamless transition, working with Bruce as he beds in, to ensure oneworld continues on its journey towards pre-eminence.”

(New oneworld Chief Executive Bruce Ashby is one of aviation’s most experienced players)

New Chief Executive Bruce Ashby commented: “oneworld has set the benchmark in the increasingly important arena of airline alliances, with its grouping of best-in-class carriers from each region and its focus on quality and innovation. It is a privilege to be invited to succeed John McCulloch to lead oneworld forward, as it becomes an even more vital element of its member airlines’ own strategies.”

They will also house the team managing the new trans-Atlantic joint business launched in October by oneworld partners American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia.

The 46,200 sq ft facility will also accommodate the New York offices of American, British Airways and a number of other oneworld member airlines. 

Besides the 25-strong central oneworld team, up to 210 employees from across the alliance’s member airlines will be based there, in a largely “open plan” layout, designed to promote collaboration across the alliance teams.  The first of them should move in there in mid-summer 2011.

(oneworld is tapping into India’s fast-growing market with the Kingfisher Airlines joins the world’s leading airline alliance. Kingfisher’s executive lounge pictured above.)

oneworld Governing Board Chairman Gerard Arpey said: “Our decision to relocate and consolidate offices in New York is another important accomplishment during a milestone year for oneworld.  New York is a critical global hub for oneworld and a key focus of our trans-Atlantic joint business. As we transition to a new home we also thank Vancouver for its support during oneworld’s first decade.”

The move to New York is the latest key step taken by oneworld in what is turning into a breakthrough year for the alliance, which included oneworld members American Airlines, British Airways and Iberia launching a trans-Atlantic joint venture.

(Russia is also oneworld home territory, with S7 joining the alliance in 2010)

Meanwhile BA and Iberia are also on track to complete their merger this month. oneworld has also made significant gains in its transpacific market. This includes approval from authorities in both the U.S. and Japan for a joint business between American Airlines and Japan Airlines between North America and Asia. This follows JAL’s reaffirmation of its oneworld membership earlier this year and its deepening of cooperation with its oneworld partners.

In 2010 oneworld also added S7 Airlines, Russia’s leading domestic carrier, as well as signing India’s Kingfisher Airlines and Germany’s Airberlin as members elect.