India’s leading domestic carrier and only five-star airline, Kingfisher Airlines, is lining up to join oneworld’ after signing a memorandum of understanding as its first step towards full membership of the world’s leading quality airline alliance, subject to Indian regulatory approval.

The agreement was concluded at a meeting between Kingfisher Airlines’ Chairman Vijay Mallya and Chief Executives from oneworld’s 11 existing member airlines, which include some of the best and biggest names in the industry.

Kingfisher Airlines today applied to India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation for authority to proceed with its membership of oneworld.

A target date for Kingfisher Airlines to join the alliance will be confirmed once this approval is gained. 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.

Kingfisher Airlines’ addition to oneworld will link India’s most extensive domestic network with oneworld’s unrivalled global network, as the only alliance with airlines based on every continent.

It will add 58 cities to the oneworld map - all of them in India. This will expand oneworld’s network to 800 destinations in almost 150 countries, served by a combined fleet of 2,350 aircraft operating some 9,000 flights a day, carrying some 340 million passengers a year.

Established oneworld members American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Qantas and Royal Jordanian already serve five gateways in India between them - Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai.

British Airways will support Kingfisher Airlines through its alliance implementation programme, as its oneworld sponsor.

Kingfisher Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Vijay Mallya said: “Kingfisher Airlines is proud to be lining up to join the world’s leading quality global airline alliance. Becoming part of oneworld would be one of our most significant steps so far - and is right in line with our vision to become one of the world’s top airlines. It will enable us to offer our guests a truly global network served by partners who include some of the best known and most admired airlines in the world, with frequent flyer benefits extended throughout this network. It will also strengthen us financially, through revenues from passengers transferring to our network from our oneworld partners and the cost reduction opportunities the alliance offers.”

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of British Airways, oneworld’s sponsor of Kingfisher Airlines, said: “Kingfisher Airlines is an ideal fit for oneworld. It has a strong focus on customer service and its network expands what the alliance currently offers. oneworld’s priority is the quality rather than quantity of our member airlines, which is why British Airways is delighted to be developing our relationship with Kingfisher Airlines further by acting as its sponsor into the alliance.”

oneworld Managing Partner John McCulloch added: “Last February oneworld celebrated its 10th birthday. This February we’ve been able to celebrate Japan Airlines’ reaffirmation of its oneworld membership, its filing for anti-trust immunity across the Pacific with American Airlines, tentative approval in the US for anti-trust immunity for our transatlantic partners and in Australia for British Airways and Qantas’ joint services agreement on the kangaroo route between Europe and Australia - and now we are welcoming Kingfisher Airlines on board. Kingfisher Airlines will fill one of oneworld’s few remaining membership spaces with a carrier that matches our alliance’s demanding requirements, benefiting customers by expanding our global reach and helping us ensure oneworld remains the pre-eminent global alliance with members unmatched in brand and service quality.”