While the timeline remains to be seen, it looks like the OneWorld alliance could pick up a second member airline in Africa – RwandAir.
The New Times broke the story that RwandAir intends to join the OneWorld alliance. RwandAir has a close partnership with Qatar Airways and is hoping to leverage that relationship the same way Oman Air did to join OneWorld
Unsurprisingly, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, who currently is currently the chairman of the alliance, has made it clear that his goal was to grow the alliance. Speaking at the 6th African Aviation Summit, Al Baker revealed he was in discussions to purchase a 49% stake in the airline, noting its favorable location, operating environment, and the country’s stability.
The news of RwandAir wanting to join OneWorld is hot off the heels of Virgin Atlantic pushing forward and Joining SkyTeam.
Benefits To OneWorld Members
It’s well known that OneWorld has excellent international coverage but lacks connectivity in Africa. Even with Royal Air Maroc joining in 2020, there is still a gap in connections, particularly to the south of Africa. As such, it would be favourable to RwandAir to join, adding another African partner.
Its unfortunate to see so few new carriers to join alliances of late. SkyTeam hasn’t had a new member in years, excluding Virgin Atlantic, Garuda Indonesia was the most recent new member in 2014. The same can be said about Star Alliance too.
It’s the new age I fear, airlines these days see more value in bilateral relationships than in alliances. Delta CEO Ed Bastian told Bloomberg alliances “hasn’t brought a lot of great value to customers..[or] to member airlines”.
However, this is something that Qatar Airways’ Al Baker “gets”, the outspoken CEO has always been doing things against the grain and he has been doing what he can to add new members to the alliance.
Needless to say If RwandAir joined the OneWorld alliance as a full member, this would mean that frequent flyers could take advantage of reciprocal elite perks (like lounge access) and would also have the opportunity for reciprocal mileage earning and redemption opportunities.
Benefits To RwandAir Dream Miles
Given how small RwandAir is with just 12 aircraft, the obvious benefit would be far greater for RwandAir Dream Miles members as it will be opening a host of possibilities from the 14 OneWorld member strong network – making their status and award miles instantly more valuable.
Qatar Airways appears to be playing a key role in paving the way for alliance growth and the tie-up between the carrier and the alliance looks more likely to happen than not. RwandAir’s strong relationship with Qatar Airways has almost certainly guaranteed it entry.
It remains to be seen whether it becomes a OneWorld ‘connect’ member, which offers a more limited partnership, or a full member. ‘OneWorld connect’ is the route Fiji Airways took when it joined the alliance.