oneworld celebrates its fifth birthday in Finland by holding first meetings with member elect SWISS

17 October 2003

oneworld™, the world's leading international airline alliance, celebrates its fifth birthday in Helsinki today, by holding its first full meeting with member elect Swiss International Air Lines participating.

The senior executives responsible for alliance activity from the established eight member carriers and the new recruit – which was voted on board as the grouping's ninth partner on 23 September – are gathering in the Finnish capital to review the alliance's progress in its first five years and appraise strategy for the year ahead.

Their meeting takes place as Finnair President Keijo Suila serves as Chairman of the oneworld Governing Board.

oneworld was unveiled in London in September 1998 and started offering services and benefits in February 1999. The four founding partners - American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas – have since been joined by four more. Finnair was the first recruit, with Spain's Iberia, in September 1999, followed by Ireland's Aer Lingus and LanChile in June 2000. SWISS will join them as a fully fledged member of the grouping during the early part of next year.

oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch said: "oneworld has a clear aim – to generate more value for customers and shareholders than any airline can achieve on its own. As a grouping of high quality, highly committed carriers, we have made considerable progress to that end in our first five years. We know, however, there are substantially more benefits we can unlock in the future."

Of the host airline for this week's meeting, he added: "Although it may not be the largest of our member airlines, Finnair 'punches above its weight' in oneworld, leading many of our IT activities, providing our partnership with an excellent hub in northern Europe that's fast becoming a leading gateway for Asia, and with its great enthusiasm for alliance-working."

Finnair's Director of Alliances Kari Koli said: "Finnair is delighted to welcome our senior oneworld colleagues to our home base for only the second time, for a meeting that marks our alliance's fifth anniversary. It provides us with an opportunity to underline the importance we all place on what oneworld brings our individual airlines, our relationships as members of the world's best alliance and our belief that it can deliver even more benefits for our customers and companies in the future."

For Finns, oneworld brings the world closer to home. By itself, Finnair serves 58 destinations in 29 countries. Through oneworld, the network it can offer – with one ticket, and one check-in – is expanded to more than 570 destinations in 136 territories, more than any other alliance serves.

Finnair Plus card holders can earn and redeem frequent flyer rewards across the combined oneworld global network. Top-tier card holders can also gain access to airport lounges offered by all oneworld carriers – more than 380 of them globally – and receive from all oneworld airlines the same sort of privileges they enjoy from Finnair.

Since it joined oneworld, Finnair has forged close one-on-one relationships with all the other oneworld partners. In particular, it has an extensive marketing agreement with American Airlines, covered by US anti-trust immunity, and code-shares extensively with partners Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Qantas and SWISS.