The British Airways-led oneworld alliance has launched Explorer, which allows for a round-the-world trip with a single air fare, as it prepares for its global media launch next month. By paying a single fare starting at $17,440, travellers can visit the 600 destinations serviced by the oneworld alliance partners. Cathay Pacific helped found the oneworld alliance in September, along with British Airways, American Airlines, Qantas and Canadian Airlines. Spain's Iberia last week signed on to oneworld, while Finnair expects to join by the end of the year. Few travellers are expected to take up the Explorer offer, but the oneworld partners hope the Explorer fare can help drive home the message to consumers about which carriers are partners in oneworld. While the official launch of oneworld took place at the beginning of this month, the advertising push does not commence until Monday. Alan Wong, Cathay general manager for Hong Kong and the mainland, said this was to allow the partner carriers in oneworld time to educate their staff and ticketing agents, and to smooth out bugs in the customer service system. 'You will notice that while we launched officially on February 1, it was an extremely soft launch,' Mr Wong said. 'We have since been going about putting the oneworld logo on offices and airport counters getting ready for March 1 when we will really launch the brand to the public.' Dane Cheng, Cathay's manager for alliances, said: 'There have been some problems in the implementation of oneworld - for instance, the education process for some of our employees in distant offices have been slow - but these are problems being ironed out now.' Mr Cheng also said the work of converting the individual airlines' databases into compatible systems so that customer and ticketing information could flow between the carriers was on-going. He said, while the majority of the work had been completed, there was ongoing development and improvements were being done. 'There are basically only two systems in use in the world, but everyone's system is slightly modified and different so that's one thing we've been doing,' Mr Cheng said. While partners of oneworld's rival, the United Airlines-led Star alliance, have been quick to quantify the benefits of belonging to an alliance, Mr Cheng is slightly more cautious. Lufthansa has said that its membership in the Star alliance contributed almost a quarter of its earnings in the 1997 financial year. 'We are and will continue actively monitoring the situation with regards to our revenue and profit growth because of oneworld,' said Mr Cheng. 'But we don't know what it will be yet. 'Areas such as purchasing, baggage handling and even airport lounges are all areas of co-operation where there is a potential for a lot of savings.'