VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- India's leading domestic carrier and only five-star airline, Kingfisher Airlines, is lining up to join oneworld® after signing a memorandum of understanding as its first step towards full membership of the world's leading quality airline alliance, subject to Indian regulatory approval.
The agreement was concluded at a meeting between Kingfisher Airlines' Chairman Vijay Mallya and Chief Executives from oneworld's 11 existing member airlines, which include some of the best and biggest names in the industry.
Kingfisher Airlines today applied to India's Ministry of Civil Aviation for authority to proceed with its membership of oneworld.
A target date for Kingfisher Airlines to join the alliance will be confirmed once this approval is gained. The process to bring any airline on board normally takes around 18 months to complete, so Kingfisher Airlines could be expected to start flying as part of oneworld during 2011.
Kingfisher Airlines' addition to oneworld will link India's most extensive domestic network with oneworld's unrivalled global network, as the only alliance with airlines based on every continent. It will add 58 cities to the oneworld map – all of them in India. This will expand oneworld's network to 800 destinations in almost 150 countries, served by a combined fleet of 2,350 aircraft operating some 9,000 flights a day, carrying some 340 million passengers a year.
Established oneworld members American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas and Royal Jordanian already serve five gateways in India between them – Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
British Airways will support Kingfisher Airlines through its alliance implementation programme, as its oneworld sponsor.
Kingfisher Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Vijay Mallya said: "Kingfisher Airlines is proud to be lining up to join the world's leading quality global airline alliance. Becoming part of oneworld would be one of our most significant steps so far - and is right in line with our vision to become one of the world's top airlines. It will enable us to offer our guests a truly global network served by partners who include some of the best known and most admired airlines in the world, with frequent flyer benefits extended throughout this network. It will also strengthen us financially, through revenues from passengers transferring to our network from our oneworld partners and the cost reduction opportunities the alliance offers."
Gerard Arpey, Chairman and CEO of American Airlines and Chairman of the Governing Board of oneworld said: "The addition of Kingfisher will further solidify oneworld's standing as the premier global alliance, providing the highest level of service to the world's most important markets and delivered by airlines with a strong track record of success. Because no single airline can take every customer every place he or she wants to go it is critical for business and leisure travelers to have access to the finest collection of airline partners and networks, and that is exactly what oneworld delivers."
Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways, oneworld's sponsor of Kingfisher Airlines, said: "Kingfisher Airlines is an ideal fit for oneworld. It has a strong focus on customer service and its network expands what the alliance currently offers. oneworld's priority is the quality rather than quantity of our member airlines, which is why British Airways is delighted to be developing our relationship with Kingfisher Airlines further by acting as its sponsor into the alliance."
oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch added: "Last February oneworld celebrated its 10th birthday. This February we've been able to celebrate Japan Airlines' reaffirmation of its oneworld membership, its filing for anti-trust immunity across the Pacific with American Airlines, tentative approval in the US for anti-trust immunity for our transatlantic partners and in Australia for British Airways and Qantas' joint services agreement on the kangaroo route between Europe and Australia – and now we are welcoming Kingfisher Airlines on board. Kingfisher Airlines will fill one of oneworld's few remaining membership spaces with a carrier that matches our alliance's demanding requirements, benefiting customers by expanding our global reach and helping us ensure oneworld remains the pre-eminent global alliance with members unmatched in brand and service quality."
About Kingfisher Airlines
Since its launch in 2005, Kingfisher Airlines has established itself as India's leading air carrier in terms of domestic passenger carried, daily departures (an average of 383 daily departures), customer service quality and innovation.
Kingfisher Airlines carried 10.9 million passengers in the financial year ended 31 March 2009 with a share of 27 per cent of the domestic Indian air travel market. For the nine months to 31 December 2009, it carried 8.2 million passengers.
It is India's only five star airline, as rated by Skytrax, the independent airline quality research organisation. Besides being the first and only airline in India to offer in-flight entertainment at every seat, Kingfisher Airlines offers Live TV with 16 channels. It has received numerous awards for innovation, customer responsiveness and was voted the "Best New Airline of the Year", within months of its launch. It covers all segments of air travel – from low fares to premium service.
The airline launched its first international routes in September 2008 and now serves oneworld hubs Bangkok, Hong Kong, London Heathrow and Singapore. Internationally, it also currently serves Colombo, Dubai and Dhaka. In total, it flies to 70 destinations worldwide – 63 of them in India – in eight countries, with its main hubs at Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
Kingfisher Airlines' network has been covered since 1 June 2009 by the Global Explorer round-the-world fare offered by all oneworld member airlines and selected carriers that are not part of the alliance.
Its fleet of 66 modern aircraft, with an average age of five years, includes five Airbus A330s, eight A321s, 23 A320s, three A319s and 25 ATR 72-500s and two ATRs. It employs 7,400 staff.
During the financial year ended 31 March 2009, it generated revenues totalling INR55.8 billion (US$1.1 billion), with INR50.9 billion (US$975 million) of that from its passenger business. . For the nine months to 31 December 2009, it generated revenues totalling INR38.2 billion (US$817 million), with INR35 billion (US$753 million) of that from its passenger business.
The 58 destinations across India that Kingfisher Airlines will add to the oneworld map include Agartala, Agatti, Agra, Ahmedabad, Aizwal, Amritsar, Aurangabad, Bagdogra, Bhavnagar, Bhubaneswar, Bhuj, Calicut, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Dehradun, Dharamsala, Goa, Guwahati, Hubli, Imphal, Indore, Jabalpur, Jaipur, Jammu, Jodhpur, Kandla, Khajuraho, Kochi, Kolhapur, Kolkata, Kullu, Latur, Leh, Lucknow, Madurai, Mangalore, Nagpur, Nanded, Nasik, Patna, Port Blair, Pune, Raipur, Rajahmundry, Ranchi, Salem, Sholapur, Silchar, Simla, Srinagar, Tirupati, Trichy, Trivandrum, Tuticorin, Udaipur, Varanasi, Vijayawada, and Vishakapatnam.
Kingfisher Airlines is a part of The UB Group – one of India's largest conglomerates with diverse interests and a global presence. The UB Group is also the largest Indian alcoholic beverages (beer and spirits) company and the third largest drinks group in the world.
A selection of print quality images of Kingfisher Airlines and its logo can be downloaded from http://www.oneworld.com/ow/news-and-information/gallery/list?categoryID=4&subCategoryID=11
A selection of print quality images and logos for oneworld and its existing member airlines can be downloaded from www.oneworld.com/ow/news-and-information/corporate-image-gallery
oneworld brings together some of the best and biggest names in the airline business - American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malev Hungarian Airlines, Mexicana, Qantas and Royal Jordanian, and around 20 affiliates including American Eagle, Dragonair, LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru. Russia's S7 Airlines will join the alliance in 2010 with Kingfisher now on track to follow during 2011. Between them, these airlines:
- Serve 800 airports in nearly 150 countries, with some 9,000 daily departures.
- Offer nearly 550 airport lounges for premium customers.
- Carry some 340 million passengers a year on a fleet of almost 2,500 aircraft.
- Generate more than US$100 billion annual revenues in total.
It is the only alliance with any airlines based in South America, Australia or Asia's Middle East.
The alliance enables its members to offer their customers more services and benefits than any airline can provide on its own. These include a broader route network, opportunities to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles and points across the combined oneworld network and more airport lounges. oneworld also offers more alliance fares than any of its competitors.
oneworld was voted the World's Leading Airline Alliance for the seventh year running in the latest (2009) World Travel Awards. It is the only winner of this award since it was introduced in 2003.