Aer Lingus has confirmed to its Oneworld partners that it intends to leave the alliance as early as 2007 due to a change in its strategy.
The decision comes as Oneworld, which consists of eight operators including American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas, undergoes its biggest expansion to date with three new recruits – Japan Airlines, Malev Hungarian and Royal Jordanian – lining up to join the group.
Aer Lingus’ strategy has altered fundamentally since it joined the alliance six years ago and is no longer convergent with that of its partners, says the Irish airline.
Oneworld’s target market is the multi-sector, premium, frequent international traveller, while Aer Lingus has repositioned itself as a low fare, point-to-point carrier.
The departure of Aer Lingus, currently the smallest airline in Oneworld, will be softened by the arrival of the three new recruits, which will increase the group’s “seat kilometres” capacity by more than 20%.
Aer Lingus is in talks with various Oneworld members with the aim of retaining strong bilateral links. The airline has confirmed it has no intention of joining another global alliance, such as Star and SkyTeam.
Together, the three alliances account for 80% of the total world airline capacity and have 19 of the world’s 20 biggest airlines signed up.