The OneWorld Alliance has some of the biggest names in the industry, such as American, IAG, Qantas and Cathay Pacific. They have multiple other carriers, but they are still the smallest of the three major airline alliances. The alliance currently lacks partners in Africa, China and India. I think that South African Airways’ perils could be beneficial for OneWorld if ComAir is able to purchase them. In China, American recently partnered with China Southern. This could make the largest Chinese airline a long-term future member (because they are currently a member of Skyteam). This leaves one major hole in the alliance’s network.
India, OneWorld’s Farthest Frontier
India is the second most populous country in the world, and has one the world’s fastest growing aviation markets. OneWorld was originally going to have a partner there with Kingfisher Airlines. Before they could ever join, however, the airline went bankrupt. This left British Airways and Qatar Airways as the main access to India. Since then, the alliance has not had a major partner in the region.
Vistara is a premium airline that was founded by the TATA Sons and Singapore Airlines. The airline is currently limited to domestic flights, but will soon launch international flights. In the meanwhile, the airline has partnered with oneWorld carriers such as Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Finnair and British Airways. They have other partners, such as Singapore Airlines and AIr France-KLM. Given the likelihood of Jet Airways joining Skyteam, Air France-KLM would not need Vistara. The confusing factor is Singapore Airlines.
Star Alliance, Air India and AI’s Future
Air India is currently in financial trouble. The airline has taken a major toll from low cost carrier competition in India. The airline also has to compete with the Middle East Big 3 to bring passengers to the country. With the current situation, there are those that suspect the carrier may go bankrupt. If this were the case, there are rumors that the TATA Group will purchase the carrier. This would probably mean merging Vistara and Air India. This would make the future of a oneWorld airline in India very unclear. If Air India is not purchased by by TATA, it could be purchased by any other interested party. They could keep them in Star Alliance, move them to oneWorld, or keep them out of alliances altogether.
The future of oneWorld in India hangs mainly on the balance of Air India’s future. If the airline is privatized, then that could alter the landscape of the Indian aviation market. The buyer would decide how to proceed with Air India. There is also the limited possibility that IndiGo may join an alliance if it decides to launch long haul flights. At the moment, everything seems very speculative. I would love to see American partner with Vistara as well, given they have no connections within India. Maybe someday we will have a full fledged Indian carrier in oneWorld.
What do you think? Would Vistara be a good fit for oneWorld? What other airline can join oneWorld from India? Let us know!
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