SriLankan creates history with oneworld

Thursday, 1 May 2014 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • National carrier becomes first in South Asia to joins world’s fastest growing and most highly rated global airline alliance involving 14 others serving almost 1,000 airports in 150 countries
  • Benefits galore for SriLankan Airlines’ frequent flyers
  • Mattala picked as venue for national carrier’s induction, making Hambantota latest city of oneworld
By Cheranka Mendis in Hambantota National carrier SriLankan Airlines yesterday stood proud among 14 world leading airlines as it was formally embraced into the oneworld network – the world’s fastest growing and most highly-rated global airline alliance. The first carrier from the Indian subcontinent to enter the alliance, SriLankan also completes the final leg of the biggest expansion of the world’s premier alliance since its launch 15 years ago. Unveiled with oneworld livery and coloured by traditional Sri Lankan dancers, the joining ceremony held at Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport saw the presence of key Government Ministers led by Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Dr. Sarath Amunugama and Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa, key officials of oneworld and affiliated airlines, as well as a large contingent of foreign and local media. SriLankan’s first flight as part of oneworld will be UL318 departing from Colombo to the Kuala Lumpur hub of oneworld partner Malaysia Airlines at 7:45 a.m. today (1 May). Invited and sponsored by Cathay Pacific Airways in mid 2012, SriLankan has worked extensively to fine-tune its product and services through technology platforms, processes, capacity building and its frequent flyer program, among others. As a result of the successful completion of the said projects, the airline from last midnight will fly alongside leading carriers such as Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Australia’s Qantas, airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Russia’s S7 Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, American Airlines, LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines. The partnership would further the country’s goal of becoming a vibrant aviation hub, SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe observed. “With the world airline industry increasingly focused on alliances, joining oneworld is one of the most significant developments to date for SriLankan Airlines. Joining the alliance will help put SriLankan more firmly on the global aviation map and vastly improve Sri Lanka’s connectivity with the rest of the world, which is vital for our country’s trade and tourism,” he said. As a result of oneworld, SriLankan anticipates 20% incremental revenue, SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer Kapila Chandrasena said. To further strengthen the airline, projects and activities that have been lined up in the airline’s five-year plan are being achieved accordingly, except for a few hiccups in certain areas. The combined effects of the widespread fleet expansion and modernisation, cost controls and benchmarking the services to global standards will “put the airline on the right revenue track and targeted bottom line,” he asserted. Welcoming the airline to its fold, oneworld CEO Bruce Ashby yesterday noted that through the alliance, SriLankan will be able to expand its scope, customer propositions and incentives to fly. “We have 15 strong airline brand products and services that will benefit from each other and through the network bring generous incentives to its flyers.” Ashby added that the addition of SriLankan Airlines concludes what has been the biggest and fastest growth program by any global airline alliance, enabling oneworld to consolidate its position as the first choice global alliance for frequent international travellers the world over. “In SriLankan, we are delighted to be adding another high quality, fast expanding carrier to the world’s fastest growing and most highly-rated global airline alliance,” he said, stressing that the wide connectivity would support Sri Lanka’s economic renaissance and its key industry, tourism. The airline’s addition to oneworld will bring two new destinations on to the alliance network – Hambantota as well as India’s Tiruchirapalli – along with its Colombo base as a new oneworld hub. With an extensive schedule serving Southern India and as the leading international airline serving the Maldives, SriLankan also significantly strengthens oneworld’s presence throughout South Asia, one of the world’s fastest growing regions for air travel demand. Cathay Pacific Chief Operating Officer Rupert Hogg noted: “Cathay Pacific has been very pleased to serve as SriLankan’s sponsor into oneworld, supporting and mentoring it through its alliance implementation program. We wish SriLankan, its customers and employees a warm welcome on board.” With SriLankan being added to its list, oneworld will serve almost 1,000 airports in 150 countries, with 14,250 daily departures. Having brought in five million passengers last year, it focuses on service, tourism and profitability, he said. The alliance would also support the country through additional revenue and help provide better customer care. Two other significant developments are the code sharing agreements that have come through with SriLankan and S7 and Finnair Airlines, announced Wickremasinghe. The former will come into effect from 15 May while the latter will be from 2 June. Earlier, the airline had a longstanding code share with Malaysia Airlines. Through the alliance, the 300,000 members of SriLankan’s FlySmiLes loyalty program will, in effect, have their frequent flyer privileges extended to whenever they fly on oneworld member airlines – including earning rewards and tier status points plus the ability to redeem rewards for flights throughout the alliance network. As of last night, the 180 million members of the established oneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programs will also be able to earn rewards and tier status points and receive all other oneworld benefits when flying on SriLankan and redeem awards on the airline’s network. To celebrate SriLankan’s addition to oneworld, all FlySmiLes cardholders will receive double their usual FlySmiLes miles when flying on most oneworld partners between 15 May and 30 June. Members of most established member airlines’ loyalty programs will receive double the normal mileage awards/points when flying on SriLankan during the same period.