aword from oneworld: October 2007

17 October 2007

Two countries, 20 destinations and dozens of routes join oneworld network: Two countries, 20 destinations and dozens of new routes will join the worldwide network served by the oneworld alliance in the airline industry's new flying season, which takes off on Sunday 28 October.

The two new countries are Cambodia and Nepal, which will come on-line when Dragonair joins the alliance as an affiliate on 1 November. From its Hong Kong hub, it serves Cambodia's Phnom Penh and will launch flights to Nepal's Khatmandu from 2 December. Twelve of the 19 destinations it serves in Mainland China will also be new to the oneworld map, along with Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia) and Phuket (Thailand).

In Europe, Stansted will become the fourth London gateway served by alliance airlines - after Heathrow, Gatwick and City - with American Airlines launching flights there from New York JFK, daily initially from 28 October, rising to twice daily in April.

Genoa will become the 15th city in Italy served by oneworld carriers when Iberia inaugurates daily CRJ200 flights, operated by its regional affiliate Iberia Regional Air Nostrum to and from its Madrid hub from 28 October. British Airways will also serve the port from London Gatwick from 4 April.

In the USA, affiliate American Eagle is bringing New Mexico's Santa Fe on-line to oneworld, with non-stops to and from its Dallas/Fort Worth hub from 13 December and to and from Los Angeles the next day, using Embraer 140 regional jets on both routes.

In Latin America, Barranquilla will be the fourth city in Colombia served by the alliance, when American Airlines launches daily two-class Boeing 737-800s flights to and from its Miami hub from 13 December. American already flies to Bogota, Cali and Medellin in Colombia, with Iberia and LAN also serving Bogota.

The alliance's US partner will also open up a dozen new routes serving established destinations, five of them from its New York airports, while new Chicago O'Hare services will include Buenos Aires daily non-stop from 13 December.

Among the new routes launched by oneworld members, in Europe Iberia will connect its Madrid hub with Prague and Warsaw.

Overall, the oneworld global network spans some 700 destinations in almost 150 countries. It is the only alliance with member airlines based in South America, the Middle East or Australia.

Malév raises frequencies between oneworld hubs Budapest and Madrid: Malév Hungarian Airlines is increasing frequencies between its Budapest home and the Madrid hub of oneworld partner Iberia, adding four more round trips a week to give a total of 11 from the end of this month. Flights will be timed to provide smooth connections at Madrid with Iberia's Latin American services and at Budapest with Malév's East and Central European network.

Japan Airlines to launch Premium Economy fourth cabin on 1 December: Japan Airlines is to start rolling out its new Premium Economy class on flights between its Tokyo Narita hub and London Heathrow on 1 December - when it also introduces First Class on Japanese domestic routes for the first time.

Its Premium Economy - to be offered alongside its existing First, Business and Economy - will be extended to Tokyo Narita routes serving Frankfurt and Paris during 2008, and then onto other European and US flights.

The new fourth cabin will feature the new JAL Sky Shell Seat, the world's first shell-shaped seat in any premium economy class. With 120 degrees of recline, they will offer 20 per cent more room than the airline's regular Economy, with a 38 ins (97 cm) pitch. They will be layed out in a 2-4-2 configuration on its Boeing 777s, with capacity for 40 or 44 passengers, depending on aircraft type. Each seat will have its own power outlet.

Other amenities will be similar to those offered in Business Class - noise-cancelling headsets, and video and audio on demand with a personal 9 ins screen, ear plugs, eye mask, toothbrush set, moisturizing mask, slippers and large-sized blankets and pillows.

On the ground, there will be dedicated check-in counters at Tokyo Narita, while overseas passengers will be able to use JAL Executive Class counters. Passengers will be offered the use of JAL's Sakura Lounge before departure.

Its new domestic First Class will make its debut on seven round trips a day between its Tokyo Haneda and Osaka Itami hubs, expanding as soon as possible to other departures between the two airports. It will be extended during 2008 to Tokyo Haneda routes to and from Fukuoka and Sapporo.

The new cabin will offer seats upholstered in the finest leather, reclining to a maximum angle of 132 degrees with 130 cm of leg room and a width of 53 cm. They will be laid out on its Boeing 777-200s in a 2-2-2 configuration, with a wood-finished centre partition between each pair of seats to provide maximum privacy. In-flight meals will be created by some of Japan's leading restaurants. On the ground, passengers will be able to check in at dedicated First Class counters and use lounges before being offered priority boarding.

Qantas to up-grade New Zealand domestic services: Qantas is to up-grade its New Zealand domestic product from November 2007 with a specific focus on business travellers. It will include extending to NZ for the first time its Cityflyer brand, which is already available on key Australian domestic routes.

Cityflyer will operate on the major business routes of Auckland-Wellington, Auckland-Christchurch and Wellington-Christchurch. It will offer speedier check-in processes, including on-line check-in and self-service airport kiosks, and complimentary morning newspapers, a free bar service from 4pm on weekdays, and an enhanced food offering.

On the ground, it will invest $3 million to upgrade its domestic Qantas Club lounges in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington.

BA to standardise minimum check-in times from Heathrow and Gatwick: British Airways is standardising its minimum check-in time for all flights from London Heathrow and Gatwick to 45 minutes from the start of the new flying season, on 28 October, "to ease (passengers') journey through the airport and provide a consistent check-in time". On-line check-in is not affected and will continue to close 60 minutes before departure. Check-in times for flights from all other airports, both UK and worldwide, remain unchanged.

Cathay Pacific takes delivery of first of 23 new 777s: Cathay Pacific has taken delivery of the first of 23 new Boeing 777-300ERs it has on order. Configured in a three-class lay out, the new fleet is being taken on board to enable the airline to fly more passengers non-stop to major longhaul destinations. Four more of the twinjets will be delivered to the airline this year, another five in each of the next two years, three more in 2010 and the remaining five in 2011.

oneworld in brief: 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, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Qantas and Royal Jordanian, plus some 20 affiliates. China's Dragonair will join as an affiliate on 1 November.

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 is the only alliance to enable passengers to fly throughout its network, on any combination of carriers, using just electronic tickets.

oneworld was voted the World's Leading Airline Alliance for the fourth year running in the 2006 World Travel Awards, based on votes cast by some 170 000 travel professionals, including more than 110 000 travel agents in 200 countries.