SriLankan Airlines First South Asian Carrier To Join Global Alliance

May 01--COLOMBO -- SriLankan Airlines has now become part of oneworld, offering a full range of services and benefits of the world's fastest growing and highest rated global airline alliance.

It is the first carrier from the South Asian subcontinent to join any of the global airline alliances -- and completes oneworld's biggest expansion program since the alliance was launched 15 years ago.

These landmarks were celebrated at a ceremony attended by the key ministers from Sri Lanka's government at South Asia's newest international airport, Hambantota's Mattala Rajapaksa International, serving Sri Lanka's southern and easters coasts and Hambantota's sea port.

The flag carrier of Sri Lanka will now be flying alongside some of the world's leading carriers:

Asia-Pacific: Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Australia's Qantas.

From Europe: airberlin, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia and Russia's S7 Airlines are in this alliance.

In the Middle East: Qatar Airways -- the only one of the 'big three' Gulf carriers to be part of any alliance -- and Royal Jordanian.

In North America: American Airlines and its US Airways merger partner.

In South America: LAN Airlines and its partner in LATAM Airlines Group, TAM Airlines.

Speaking at a press conference, oneworld Governing Board CEO Bruce Ashby said: "The addition of SriLankan Airlines concludes what has been the biggest and fastest growth program by any global airline alliance, enabling oneworld to consolidate its position as the first choice global alliance for frequent international travelers the world over. In SriLankan, we are delighted to be adding another high quality, fast expanding carrier to the world's fastest growing and most highly rated global airline alliance."

Cathay Pacific Chief Operating Officer Rupert Hogg added: "Cathay Pacific has been very pleased to serve as SriLankan's sponsor into oneworld, supporting and mentoring it through its alliance implementation program. We wish SriLankan, its customers and employees a warm welcome on board."

SriLankan Airlines CEO Kapila Chandrasena added: "As an airline highly focused on quality service, we are extremely proud to be lining up to become part of the highest quality alliance with the best airline partners offering a global network that best complements our own. We look forward to offering all the many benefits of oneworld to our customers from the start of business on Thursday."

SriLankan Airlines' Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe said: "With the world airline industry increasingly focused on alliances, joining oneworld is one of the most significant developments to date for SriLankan Airlines. Joining the alliance will help put SriLankan more firmly on the global aviation map and vastly improve Sri Lanka's connectivity with the rest of the world, which is vital for our country's trade and tourism.

SriLankan's first flight as part of oneworld will be UL318 departs Colombo to the Kuala Lumpur hub of oneworld partner Malaysia Airlines at 7.45 a.m. on Thursday (May 1).

The airline's addition to oneworld will bring two new destinations on to the alliance network -- Hambantota itself plus India's Tiruchirapalli -- along with its Colombo base as a new oneworld hub.

With an extensive schedule serving southern India and as the leading international airline serving the Maldives, SriLankan also significantly strengthens oneworld's presence throughout South Asia, one of the world's fastest growing regions for air travel demand.

With SriLankan, oneworld: Serves almost 1,000 airports in 150 countries, with 14,250 daily departures.

Carries more than 500 million passengers a year on a combined fleet of some 3,300 aircraft.

Generates $ 140 billion annual revenues. Offers more than 600 airport lounges, including many frequently rated the as the world's best.

From Thursday, the 300,000 members of SriLankan's FlySmiLes loyalty program will, in effect, have their frequent flyer privileges extended to whenever they fly on oneworld member airlines -- including earning rewards and tier status points plus the ability to redeem rewards for flights throughout the alliance network.

Also the 180 million members of the established oneworld airlines' frequent flyer programs will be able to earn rewards and tier status points and receive all other oneworld benefits when flying on SriLankan and redeem awards on the airline's network.

The airline's addition to oneworld will bring two new destinations on to the alliance network -- Hambantota itself plus India's Tiruchirapalli -- along with its Colombo base as a new oneworld hub.

With an extensive schedule serving southern India and as the leading international airline serving the Maldives, SriLankan also significantly strengthens oneworld's presence throughout South Asia.

With SriLankan, oneworld:

l Serves almost 1,000 airports in 150 countries, with 14,250 daily departures.

l Carries more than 500 million passengers a year on a combined fleet of some 3,300 aircraft.

l Generates $140 billion annual revenues.

l Offers more than 600 airport lounges, including many frequently rated the as the world's best.

Copyright 2014 - Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

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