US Airways and Oneworld: Realignments

MOST leisure travellers don’t pay much attention to airline alliances. Business travellers are different; knowing which alliance a carrier belongs to can make our lives a lot easier, particularly when it comes to managing frequent-flyer accounts. So US Airways’ switch to the Oneworld group, which is dominated by American Airlines and British Airways, on March 31st is a big deal. The move is a result of its merger with American Airlines, under the terms of which it agreed to ditch its current dance partners in the Star Alliance, dominated by United Airlines. Alliances not only allow carriers to grant reciprical benefits to other members’ frequent flyers, they also make it easier for customers to book connecting flights. Before the deal, Star Alliance and SkyTeam, the third big alliance led by Air France/KLM and Delta, were larger by almost all measures than Oneworld. (The Dallas Morning News has crunched the numbers.) Now, the three alliances are much more competitive; indeed Oneworld will have the largest capacity in America.There was other good news for Oneworld recently. The same day it welcomed US Airways, it brought in TAM, Brazil’s number-one carrier, which also defected from Star Alliance. But the race to sign up the world’s remaining unaffiliated airlines continues. In January, Aviation …

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