The Oneworld alliance is reconsidering the role of low-cost airlines as potential members, especially when it comes to filling the gap in 'emerging markets' outside of its established global footprint.
Newly-minted Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney admitted he is rethinking how low-cost operators – which represent an ever-increasing slice of the worldwide travel market – might fit into the Oneworld family.
Gurney is also taking a second look at China, India and Africa, where Oneworld comes up short against competitors Star Alliance and SkyTeam.
"The value proposition hasn’t evolved as rapidly as market structures, industry trends or the operating models of our member airlines," Gurney noted during a briefing at London's Aviation Club.
“We’ve got to be open to everything and anything... if we want to have a partner that’s operating in those markets we have to re-think how we collaborate."
"Like any enterprise that perhaps hasn’t moved at sufficient pace, you need to address that. This is a business."
Gurney said that Oneworld has held "formative" talks with potential recruits in Africa, and while there's no active hunt for new chums in China or India he would "absolutely like to be working with airlines domiciled in those countries."
Star Alliance last year launched a 'connecting partner' tier designed to accomodate low-cost and 'hybrid' airlines, which currently includes South African's Mango and Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines.
Future partners are likely to be drawn from within the ranks of current Star Alliance membership where offshoot low-cost airlines serve routes which their parents do not, such as Singapore Airlines' Scoot, Lufthansa's EuroWings and Air Canada's Jazz.