Should you gamble and credit SkyTeam flights to Air Europa, hoping they become Avios points?

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The big news in the aviation world last month was that IAG, the parent company of British Airways, announced the acquisition of Air Europa for €1bn.

Air Europa is the 3rd biggest airline in Spain.  The acquisition, according to IAG, will turn Madrid into a genuine ‘5th European hub’ city alongside London, Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam.

Importantly, IAG will become the largest airline group flying between Europe and the Caribbean and Europe and Latin America.

There is a real risk that the competition authorities block the deal, however.  IAG will operate 73% of all domestic flights in Spain if there are no divestments, and IAG may consider any proposed divestments too high a price to pay.

IAG to buy Air Europa

What has this got to do with earning Avios from SkyTeam flights?

I’m glad you asked!

IAG has confirmed that Air Europa will be leaving SkyTeam and adopting Avios if the deal succeeds.

Air Europa currently has its own frequent flyer scheme called SUMA.  You can find full details on the Air Europa website here.

As a member of SkyTeam, you can currently credit miles from any SkyTeam flight to Air Europa SUMA – Delta, Air France, KLM, Vietnam, Aeroflot, Korean etc.

If you do not usually collect SkyTeam miles but find yourself on a SkyTeam flight, there is an interesting opportunity here.

If you credit your SkyTeam activity to Air Europa SUMA, it is virtually certain that your SUMA miles will be converted into Avios if the sale of the airline to IAG goes through.

Is this risk-free?

Absolutely not.

There is a high chance that IAG abandons the deal if the competition authorities demand excessive divestments.  This deal increases the size of Iberia by 50%, assuming you treat Air Europa and Iberia as one airline.

Eight airlines control 99.6% of Spanish domestic flights, according to CAPA.  Unfortunately for regulators, IAG will now own the three biggest, running a total of 73% of all domestic flights:

  • Vueling – 32%
  • Iberia – 26%
  • Air Europa – 15%

Ryanair comes joint third, also with 15%.  You then drop to BinterCanarias with 9%, which mainly operates in and to the Canary Islands.

IAG to buy Air Europa

If you credit SkyTeam flights to Air Europa and IAG ends up abandoning its bid for Air Europa, you will be stuck with some SUMA miles.

This isn’t the end of the world, of course.  After all, you would otherwise have been stuck with some Delta, Air France, Korean etc miles.  It is harder to top up Air Europa SUMA miles to the level required for a flight redemption, however, as they have fewer partners – you can’t transfer UK Amex Membership Rewards points, for example.

Air Europa SUMA miles have a fairly generous expiry policy so you should be safe even if the move to Avios takes a couple of years.  You only need some piece of ‘activity’ on your account every 18 months to keep them alive, which could be partner earning.  I am guessing that a small ‘buy miles’ transaction would be enough. (EDIT: comments below suggest this may not count as activity)

If you have any SkyTeam flights coming up then this is a strategy worth thinking about if your main focus is Avios.

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Comments

  1. Charlie says:

    I don’t know why you wouldn’t collect Delta miles, even over Virgin. Unless you use the Virgin 2-4-1 or credit card, there’s no advantage in collecting Virgin miles instead of Delta ones (they are an Amex partner though), and you have way more earn/burn opportunities. Additionally, Delta miles never expire.

    • I would have said the exact opposite – to credit your Delta flights to Virgin instead of SkyPesos. Virgin already has decent partners for both flight and hotel redemptions. And furthermore, next year should bring the ability to redeem Virgin miles on AF/KLM.

    • The Original David says:

      I can think of a few reasons:
      1) Delta doesn’t have a UK credit card with a chunky sign-up bonus.
      2) Delta isn’t a Tesco Clubcard partner.
      3) Delta doesn’t regularly throw out large bonuses for life insurance/pet insurance.
      4) You can’t get Delta miles from a UK savings account.

      And it’s pretty hard to let your Virgin miles expire unless you die – you just need one transaction every 3 years (including transfers, CC earning etc).

  2. Shoestring says:

    5) Can’t convert Delta miles to a hotel scheme (buying the hotel rooms directly from airlines – BA included – is much worse value)

  3. Concerto says:

    I think with SkyTeam it has to be a flight activity in order to extend the miles.

    • Not necessarily true. You can extend Flying Blue miles with partner activity. Only those miles gained from flying csn be extended with more flying.

  4. I believe with Air Europa Suma, buying miles does not extend expiration.

  5. dave_in_gva says:

    I rarely fly Skyteam lines and have just over 10,000 points with them. If I open a SUMA account is it possible to transfer these to Air Europa?

    • Which airline are your miles with? It is generally not possible to transfer between airlines directly unless they are using the same currency, e.g. Avios or AF/KLM.

      There are some convoluted routes available off the top of my head something like Finnair > Accor Hotels > Qatar Airways. Alternatively there are sites like points.com which allow buying and selling of points. However these methods are usually poor value, you might only end up getting 10 or 20% of the value you started with.

      • dave_in_gva says:

        Tx Alex, my Skyteam miles are with Air France.

        If Air Europa (as part of the Skyteam alliance) uses the same currency as AF/KLM I am wondering if I can:
        1. Open a Air Europa (SUMA) account.
        2. Transfer in my 10,478 AF/KLM miles
        3. Hope to transfer those to Avios if all works out with the merger

        So as opposed to crediting future earnings to Air Europa I am asking if I can transfer existing AF/KLM miles to Air Europa.

  6. btw, you can also credit Etihad flights to Suma

  7. Sorry for off-topic. I have an Ambassador Weekend night certificate which expires 1st January 2020 and I’m running out of time to use it. I was thinking about a long weekend in Marseilles this weekend and I can find flight and hotel availability at the Intercontinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu. I’ve never been to Marseilles and wondered if any readers can give me their opinions on the City and the hotel and whether that would be a good use of my weekend certificate. Grateful for any advice.

    • Lovely hotel
      Marseilles is fascinating

      • The Original David says:

        Yep, I stayed there on a 1-night trip in March a couple of years ago. Nice hotel, very convenient for the old port, and a great terrace if you can afford the drinks menu. Marseilles is interesting enough to wander around for a couple of days, and the weather looks reasonable for this weekend, I’d go for it.

        Note that the airport is quite a distance from town, if that affects your decision-making.

    • Genghis says:

      I go a couple of times a year and will again in Jan. Interesting city, not particularly my cup of tea. However, the bouillabaisse from Chez Michel is very special

  8. Well if they don’t convert to avios you can still use them as SUMA points on wide bodied jjets to Madrid and Tenerife so not so bad.

  9. *jets

  10. I joined US Airways Dividend Miles when the rumours of the AA merger were rumbling, credited some US flights to them and waited for them to transfer to AAdvantage.

  11. Any thoughts on the story about OW allowing points upgrades across their members?

    • Lady London says:

      Not good.
      Well, OK if your cards are based in the US with loads of avios gained from credit card offers to burn.

      For those belonging to the ‘home’ country of non-US based frequent flyer programs, not so much..
      If this goes ahead they could find a struggle to find an upgrade on their ‘home’ airline in the future.

      • Possibly. But the CC offers are typically one offs in the USA now. Also BA have rather offset that with the very high fees ex-USA.

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