Sri Lanka’s national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, has been announced as a member-elect of oneworld alliance. This comes on the heels of the government initiating a restructuring plan which includes capacity growth and rationalization, including the addition of 9 aircraft.
The carrier has steadily been growing over the last few years, following the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, due to the corresponding economic growth. It announced that it was interested in joining an alliance multiple times over the last few years, as part of its strategy for growth.
SriLankan is not a typical member for oneworld. It is not very large or well known, and its brand is not very prestigious. This is contrary to oneworld’s general strategy of targeting airlines known for their quality. Despite serving 34 destinations in 22 countries, SriLankan only adds 3 destinations to the oneworld network – Kochi, Trivandrum, and Tiruchirappalli.
After taking a hit in the Indian market earlier this year when Kingfisher Airlines’ membership got suspended, oneworld is clearly looking to increase Indian presence with the addition of SriLankan. The carrier brings increased connectivity to many Indian cities, and can offer competitive connections for oneworld members. Colombo is a convenient connection point to India from any city in the world. In comparison, cities currently served by only by British Airways, for example, are only accessible from Europe and North America through the oneworld network.
SriLankan’s entry into oneworld will be sponsored by Cathay Pacific, one of 2 oneworld carriers who serve SriLankan’s hub, Colombo. The other oneworld carrier which serves Colombo is Royal Jordanian. Member-elect Malaysia Airlines also serves Colombo, and SriLankan has a codeshare agreement with them. SriLankan is also persuing codeshare agreements with Royal Jordanian, Cathay Pacific, and S7 Airlines (SriLankan serves Moscow, their hub).
A timeframe for ascension to the alliance has not been officially set. A 2014 entry into the alliance is expected.