Kingfisher joins Oneworld

It’s been announced that India’s airline, Kingfisher Airlines will be joining the Oneworld alliance, probably in about 18 to 24 months.  While Oneworld and Kingfisher are playing this up big in today’s news, it puzzles me and, frankly, I have some doubt as to whether or not it will actually come about. 


First, Kingfisher hasn’t exactly been the most financially solvent airline in a market with 2 other major competitors (Jet Airways and Air India) nor has it exhibited a very rational strategy on choosing its destinations.  It has a couple of trunk routes from India to London and Singapore, a couple of route to leisure destinations in Asia and a domestic network that is reasonably extensive but not overwhelmingly competitive.


While I’m sure that Kingfisher offers Oneworld partners AA, BA and QANTAS some feed, it doesn’t appear that Kingfisher itself has the resources to make use of the partners in their home countries.  Their fleet is comprised of A330 aircraft and while they’re scheduled for A380s and A350s, not a person around thinks they’ll actually take up the A380 and the A350 is scheduled for deliveries to start in 2014 but it’s unlikely that those will be on time either. 


What also surprises me is that Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines major competitor, already had a good codeshare relationship with American Airlines and QANTAS.  Their equipment and services better aligned with Oneworld so I’m puzzled why we are not hearing about Jet Airways joining Oneworld. 


There certainly is a need for a Oneworld partner in India and with Air India joining Star Alliance, that left Jet Airways and Kingfisher.  My guess is that they couldn’t make a good enough business case for Jet Airways who enjoys good relationships with SkyTeam members too.  However, if I had to pick between the two, Kingfisher wouldn’t be my choice. 


I suppose Kingfisher may work if it wants to be the domestic provider for Oneworld in India.  They do have the domestic network to make that work.  But they will likely become jealous of feeding all that high dollar traffic to AA, BA and QANTAS just to get the domestic traffic in India.  It doesn’t feel equitable.   One thing I’ll say for Oneworld, their partnerships do seem quite equitable for the most part with each partner airline appearing to bring a good strength to the table both domestically and internationally.


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