New Delhi/Mumbai: India’s second biggest carrier by passengers carried Kingfisher Airlines Ltd plans to join the oneworld alliance, a global grouping of airlines, by 2011, which would give it better access to US, European and Asia-Pacific markets.

Widening reach: Joining the global group may result in a 5% boost to Kingfisher’ passenger numbers. Hemant Mishra / Mint

Jet Airways (India) Ltd, the country’s largest airline, is not part of any such alliance yet, while Air India, run by state-owned National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, has paid to join Star Alliance, the biggest airline grouping.

The top three airline alliances are Star Alliance, oneworld and SkyTeam.

India’s civil aviation ministry has to approve Kingfisher’s proposal as code-share agreements with such alliances involve bilateral rights with other countries. Code-sharing is a ticket-selling deal that allows travellers to connect seamlessly to destinations on flights of more than one airline. The civil aviation ministry has received the proposal and will study it, a ministry official said.

“A target date for Kingfisher Airlines to join the alliance will be confirmed once this approval is gained," the airline said in its statement. “The process to bring any airline on board normally takes around 18 months to complete, so Kingfisher Airlines could be expected to start flying as part of oneworld during 2011."

Air India’s entry into Star Alliance, which too was expected to be completed in 18 months, has been delayed due its ongoing merger with Indian Airlines and a time-consuming information technology platform integration.

Kingfisher’s entry into oneworld will be sponsored by British Airways Plc. Air India’s entry into Star Alliance was sponsored by German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG.

Kingfisher recently won rights for flights between New Delhi and London’s Heathrow airport, which it plans to start in March. It already flies from Mumbai to London and has Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore on its international network.

“Oneworld’s platform will give Kingfisher Airlines huge reach despite being small in size considering its international operations," said Vasudevan Thulasidas, former chairman and managing director of Air India and head of the carrier when it joined Star Alliance. “Generally, joining a big airline alliance will result in a 5% boost to Kingfisher Airlines’ passenger numbers."