Alaska Airlines has joined the Oneworld alliance.
The move comes a quick eight months after the carrier's formal invitation to the alliance and as international air travel continues to be stunted by Covid-19 border restrictions.
"We have always been contrarian, and I believe that this is the best time to join an alliance," said Ben Minicucci, Alaska's new CEO. He is replacing Brad Tilden, whose official retirement day is today, March 31.
"What we see is our entry into Oneworld will enhance our recovery and improve our profitability," Minicucci added during a virtual question and answer session with aviation media Wednesday.
He explained that in Alaska's home base of Seattle, the carrier has 350 departures per day. With Oneworld membership, feeding passengers on partner airlines and receiving their feed will be revenue and bottom line accretive.
For Alaska customers, the carrier's Oneworld membership means connectivity -- subject to current Covid-19 entry restrictions -- with the alliance's 13 other members, which prior to the pandemic served approximately 1,000 destinations in 170 countries.
Alaska already had partnerships with six of those carriers: American, Qatar, British Airways, Finnair, Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific. New partners include Iberia, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Sri Lankan and Russia's S7.
Effective immediately, Alaska Mileage Plan members can earn miles when they fly any of the 13 other Oneworld members. Mileage redemption for flights on airlines that Alaska did not have previous partnerships with will begin in the coming months, the carrier said.
In addition, elite Mileage Plan members will automatically receive matching Oneworld tier status. For individuals with Mileage Plan MVP Gold or MVP Gold 75K status, that will mean access to the international and business-class lounges of Oneworld members around the world as well as priority baggage benefits and a fast track through security.
Individuals with Mileage Plan MVP status will now receive priority boarding privileges on other Oneworld airlines.