Alaska Airlines to join Oneworld, expand cooperation with American Airlines

Photo: © Nathan Coats

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has announced that it seeks to become a full member of the Oneworld airline alliance by summer 2021.

This move is part of a deeper relationship between Alaska Airlines and fellow Oneworld member American Airlines amid competition from Delta at several of Alaska Airlines hubs on the American West Coast. As a first step, the two airlines plan to expand the current codeshare agreement as well as reciprocal frequent flier program benefits. This comes after the two carriers had in March 2019 indicated that they wanted to end most existing codeshares and frequent flier benefits.

Part of the new plan is building a new international hub at Seattle International Airport where American Airlines is going to launch two new longhaul routes to Bengaluru, India in October and to London Heathrow in March 2021. Both of these new flights will be operated by Boeing 787-9 airlines and Alaska Airlines will be feeding American with its extensive Seattle-based network. American will be the last major American Airline to return to India and the first to fly to Bengaluru after Delta Air Lines began New York-Mumbai flights in 2019.

Phase two involves lining up American and Alaska services at other airports on the West Coast, mainly in Los Angeles, with Alaska Airlines again feeding American Airlines longhaul routes to the Asia Pacific region. Joining Oneworld is also allowing Alaska to expand its international connectivity through codeshares and interline agreements and allow its frequent fliers access cross-airline Oneworld benefits, including the use of lounges worldwide and mileage redemption opportunities.

Oneworld was launched in 1999 and currently has 13 member airlines in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. However, LATAM Airlines has announced its exit of the alliance on May 1st, while Royal Air Maroc is going to join Oneworld on April 1st. Additionally, Fiji Airways is the first Oneworld Connect member airline.

Alaska Airlines was founded in 1932 in Alaska and after purchasing Virgin America in 2016 is the fifth largest airline in the United States with a fleet of over 330 planes, including both Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 family jets. Its regional aircraft are operated by SkyWest Airlines and Alaska subsidiary Horizon Air.