Alaska Airlines Or China Southern Might Join The One World Alliance

The aviation community has jumped on the rumor that a new airline will be joining the Oneworld alliance.

This comes at a surprise as most airlines back away from Alliances, with both Qatar boasting of its intention to leave Oneworld and China Southern pulling out of Skyteam.

The air alliance has revealed that they will be doing a special press conference on December 5th, to announce the first new Oneworld member in 6 years!

oneworld member airlines
The current members of Oneworld.

What do we know so far?

It is reported that Oneworld will be holding a press conference in New York on the 5thof December, to discuss the addition of a new member.

However, we don’t know who the mystery airline could be, and there are plenty of rumors going around. Let’s have a look at the most likely candidates.

One world
Qatar Airways joined the OneWorld alliance in October 2013. Photo: OneWorld

China Southern

china southern
China Southern will leave Skyteam from 1st January 2019.

As we reported before, China Southern has decided to not renew its membership to Skyteam in 2019, and put itself back on the market to join another alliance. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that American Airways has invested heavily in them. Whether or not it will happen is pure speculation. Many have pointed out that several airlines in Oneworld, such as Cathay Pacific might veto their entry (Despite it being arguably in Cathay’s best interest).

Royal Air Maroc

This flag carrier of Morroco has already laid the foundation of joining Oneworld, as they have an existing partnership with current Oneworld member Qatar, as well as a points swap deal with Iberia (Allowing points to be transferred from them to Avios and vise versa). Plus, it’s a good strategic fit as Oneworld lacks an African airline.

Aer Lingus

When you actually think about it, its very strange that Aer Lingus is not already part of Oneworld. Aer Lingus is owned by IAG (International Airlines Group, the guys who keep failing to buy Norwegian), who also own British Airways (Oneworld partner) and Iberia (Oneworld partner).

It was even a member until 2007 but ran into some problems with working with the alliance. Specifically integrating its mixed low-cost (short haul) and full service (long haul) business model. Whilst they have said they would not rejoin, never say never.


A bit of a wildcard would be WestJet. They already have a joint venture with Qantas and Oneworld does not already have a Canadian airline. However, many of their other partners are Skyteam and there might be a bit of politics involved.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines in flight
Photo: Alaska Airlines

A surprisingly likely contender is the American airline Alaska. However, they would not join as a full member but rather as a limited partner.

Here is the concept of what a limited partner is from Oneworld:

Oneworld connect partners will provide select alliance benefits to frequent flyers from any Oneworld member airline traveling on their flights, with a more extensive range of benefits offered with a subset of Oneworld member airlines, known as their “Oneworld sponsors.”

The specifics of being a Oneworld connect partner.

Essentially, it will allow Oneworld member airline passengers access to most of the same bonuses they would come to expect and give the airline access to frequent flyer programs of other airlines. All of this without committing the formalities of a full member (and the expenses that come with it).

“There’s a Oneworld Connect membership that we’re looking it, The whole goal here is to ensure that when people in the cities we serve travel internationally they are on our partners so they stay in our program.” – Alaska Airlines chief commercial officer Andrew Harrison

Alaska’s main motivation is to beat out Southwest. If passengers earned Oneworld points by flying Alaska, it would be an additional incentive that may just win them business.

Fiji Airways became a Oneworld connect partner earlier this year.

Other possible airlines who might join Oneworld

There are a few other smaller airlines that we might see join

  • Air Italy, eager to expand with Qatar’s help.
  • Interjet (Mexico), a wildcard who would support access to central America.
  • Hainan Airlines, Oneworld is very keen to acquire a full Chinese member airline and they are the only Chinese carrier to be rated 5 stars by Startrax.

Who is most likely to be the new Oneworld member?

If I had to put money on an option, I’d say Aer Lingus as the new member, with Alaska also joining as a Oneworld connect partner. They both seem easy choices and without politics.

What do you think should join? Let us know in the comments!