There was an interesting piece on the Economist website a couple of weeks ago about the SkyTeam alliance, which is well worth a read. The link is here.
If you are a regular reader of Head for Points, you will already be familiar with some of the issues raised. I discussed Delta’s introduction of a ‘minimum spend’ rule to retain status here. I have also touched on Delta’s recent refusal to award status miles for flights on Korean Airlines, which is a SkyTeam partner (in fact, possibly the best regarded SkyTeam partner) and Virgin’s unwillingness to join SkyTeam.
Unfairly or not, SkyTeam is generally seen as the ‘alliance of losers’. A quick look at the list of members will make that clear – you will struggle to think of an occasion you last heard someone rave about even one of them.
That said, I don’t agree with the thrust of the article – that looser relationships between airlines based on equity stakes will take over from alliances. Has Etihad really benefitted from its investments in Aer Lingus or Virgin Australia? I accept that the airberlin deal is being integrated more deeply and is probably feeding Etihad decent traffic – but airberlin, for now, remains a oneworld alliance member. Aer Lingus doesn’t even fly to Abu Dhabi, so it is difficult to see what benefits Etihad gets. There has also been no move so far to create a single frequent flyer scheme around those airlines where Etihad is a minority partner.
Read The Economist piece and see what you think.