HELSINKI, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The head of the oneworld alliance of airlines expects significant savings for its members from joint aircraft purchasing and cooperation in spare parts storage, Finnish business paper Kauppalehti reported on Monday.
"Large savings will be reached by centralising the purchasing. We will see the day when member airlines will jointly negotiate with airplane manufacturers on buying new planes," oneworld Chief Executive John McCulloch said in an interview with the newspaper.
He did not give the size of expected savings.
Global airline groupings such as oneworld, Star Alliance and Sky Team allow carriers to combine frequent flyer programmes and sell seats on each other's routes, giving customers a greater choice of travel times and destinations.
Many airlines are struggling with an industry downturn and would like to deepen alliances to include such areas as joint purchasing and revenue sharing, but they risk infringing industry rules governing competition, airport landing rights and company ownership.
McCulloch said that oneworld airlines, which include British Airlines (London:BAY.L - News) and American Airlines (NYSE:AMR - News), will also achieve more savings in areas like ground services and route sharing. He said members' costs have already been cut by $2 billion through the cooperation.
"Two difficult years for the airlines have speeded up the co-operation... (but) we have only scratched the surface," McCulloch said.
Last month, loss-making Swiss (Zurich:SXIN.S - News) said it would join the oneworld alliance to become the ninth member.
McCulloch added he did not expect quick results in oneworld's membership talks with Japan Airlines (Tokyo:9205.T - News; JAL) and China Eastern Airlines Corp. (HKSE:O670.HK - News).