CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Grounded carrier Kingfisher Airlines’ request to join the global airline alliance Oneworld has been put on hold, according to a top official of the alliance. Tom Horton, Chairman of Oneworld and chief of American Airlines, said: “Kingfisher Airlines is no longer operational. Therefore, the airline cannot be an active participant of OneWorld any more.”
He was speaking to Business Line on the sidelines of the annual general meeting of International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Cape Town. Hortan said Oneworld does not have any immediate plans to include any other Indian carrier.
Oneworld members include American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Malaysia Airlines and Royal Jordanian. Together, these airlines operate nearly 10,000 daily flights to more than 800 destinations across the globe.
“We have an important presence in the Indian sub-continent through member carriers such as Qatar Airways and Sri Lankan Airlines flying into India,” he said, adding that Etihad Airways is also being extended an invitation to join the alliance. Kingfisher had accumulated losses of Rs 16,024 crore as on March 31, 2013 while its operating permit has lapsed.
It was in February 2010 that Kingfisher signed a memorandum of understanding for joining Oneworld, a process which should have taken about 18 months.
After IATA suspended Kingfisher last year for failure to clear its dues, the beleaguered carrier’s entry into Oneworld was also deferred. It was slated to formally join the alliance last February.
Last year, Bruce Ashby, Oneworld’s Chief Executive Officer, had remarked that the airline industry was facing turbulent times “in India and in many other parts of the world. We have been working closely with Kingfisher over the past months and it has become increasingly clear that the airline needs more time to resolve the financial issues confronting it before it can be welcomed into Oneworld.” The alliance would set a new joining date for Kingfisher “once it is through this current period of turbulence,” he had added.
However, the latest statement by Horton indicates that it is a closed chapter for the entry of the Indian carrier into the global alliance.
Kingfisher is the third airline from India which has been unsuccessful in its efforts to join a global airline alliance. In August 2011, Star Alliance announced that Air India’s membership to the global alliance had been put on hold. Jet Airways is also seeking a Star Alliance membership.