An airline alliance is an aviation industry arrangement between two or more airlines agreeing to cooperate on a substantial level. Alliances may provide marketing branding to facilitate travelers making inter-airline codeshare connections within countries. This branding may involve unified aircraft liveries of member aircraft.
Benefits can consist of:
- An extended network, often realised through codeshare agreements. Many alliances started as only a codeshare network.
- Cost reduction from sharing of:
- sales offices
- maintenance facilities
- operational facilities, e.g. catering or computer systems.
- operational staff, e.g. ground handling personnel, at check-in and boarding desks.
- investments and purchases, e.g. in order to negotiate extra volume discounts.
- Traveler benefits can include:
- lower prices due to lowered operational costs for a given route.
- more departure times to choose from on a given route.
- more destinations within easy reach.
- shorter travel times as a result of optimised transfers.
- a wider range of airport lounges shared with alliance members
- faster mileage rewards by earning miles for a single account on several different carriers.
- round-the-world tickets, enabling travelers to fly over the world for a relatively low price.
Airline alliances may also create disadvantages for the traveler, such as:
- Higher prices when competition is erased on a certain route.
- Less frequent flights: for instance, if two airlines separately fly three and two times a day respectively on a shared route, their alliance might fly less than 5 (3+2) times a day on the same route. This might be especially true between hub cities for each airline. e.g., flights between Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (a Delta Air Lines fortress hub) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (a KLM fortress hub).
The ability of an airline to join an alliance may be restricted by laws and regulations or subject to approval by authorities. Competition law issues must also be considered in some countries.
The first airline alliance was formed in the 1930s, when Panair do Brasil and its parent company Pan American World Airways agreed to exchange routes to Latin America. In 1990, the African Joint Air Services (AJAS) Accord between Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia led to the launch of Alliance Air in 1994 with South African Airways, Air Tanzania, Uganda Airlines and the governments of Uganda and Tanzania as shareholders.
The first large alliance began in 1989, when Northwest Airlines and KLM agreed to large-scale codesharing. In 1992, the Netherlands signed the first open skies agreement with the United States, in spite of objections from the European Union, which gave both countries unrestricted landing rights on the other's soil. Normally landing rights are granted for a fixed number of flights per week to a fixed destination. Each adjustment requires negotiations, often between governments rather than between the companies involved. In return, the United States granted antitrust immunity to the alliance between Northwest Airlines and KLM. Other alliances would struggle for years to overcome the transnational barriers and lack of antitrust immunity, and still do so.
In 2010 Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, announced his intention to form a fourth alliance among Virgin branded airlines (Virgin Atlantic; Virgin America; and the Virgin Australia Holdings group of airlines). Then in September 2011, Branson said that Virgin would join one of the existing alliances; this idea was repeated in October 2012. In December 2012, Delta Air Lines purchased Singapore Airlines' 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic for £224 million.
On February 14, 2013, it was announced that American Airlines and US Airways would merge, retaining the American Airlines name and would remain in the Oneworld alliance. US Airways participation in the Star Alliance lapsed. In 2012, in South America, LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines began their merger. In March 2014, with the merger complete, TAM left Star Alliance and became part of LAN in Oneworld.
On September 21, 2015, the Vanilla Alliance was formed between several airlines based in the Indian Ocean region, in order to improve air connectivity within the region. The founding members are Air Austral, Air Mauritius, Air Madagascar, Air Seychelles, and Int'Air Îles.
On January 18, 2016, the first alliance of low-cost carriers was formed, U-FLY Alliance. The founding members—HK Express, Lucky Air, Urumqi Air, and West Air—are all affiliated with HNA Group, although the alliance is also seeking airlines not within the group.
On May 16, 2016, the world's largest alliance of low-cost carriers was formed, Value Alliance. The founding members are Scoot Airlines, Tigerair, Tigerair Australia, Nok Air, NokScoot, Cebu Pacific, Jeju Air, and Vanilla Air.
Star Alliance, founded in 1997, currently has 27 members:
- (JP) Adria Airways, 2004
- (A3) Aegean Airlines, 2010
- (AC) Air Canada, founder
- (CA) Air China, 2007
- (AI) Air India, 2014
- (NZ) Air New Zealand, 1999
- (NH) All Nippon Airways, 1999
- (OZ) Asiana Airlines, 2003
- (OS) Austrian Airlines, 2000
- (AV) Avianca, 2012
- (SN) Brussels Airlines, 2009
- (CM) Copa Airlines, 2012
- (OU) Croatia Airlines,2004
- (MS) EgyptAir, 2008
- (ET) Ethiopian Airlines, 2011
- (BR) EVA Air, 2013
- (LO) LOT Polish Airlines, 2003
- (LH) Lufthansa, founder
- (SK) Scandinavian Airlines, founder
- (ZH) Shenzhen Airlines, 2012
- (SQ) Singapore Airlines, 2000
- (SA) South African Airways, 2006
- (LX) Swiss International Air Lines, 2006
- (TP) TAP Portugal, 2005
- (TG) Thai Airways International, founder
- (TK) Turkish Airlines, 2008
- (UA) United Airlines, founder
- (AN) Ansett Airlines, 1999–2001, defunct
- (KF) Blue1, 2004-2012, now a member affiliate
- (BD) BMI, 2000-2012, absorbed into British Airways
- (CO) Continental Airlines, 2009–2012, merged with United Airlines
- (MX) Mexicana de Aviación, 2000–2004, joined Oneworld in 2009
- (FM) Shanghai Airlines, 2007–2010, merged with China Eastern Airlines and joined SkyTeam in 2011
- (JK) Spanair, 2003-2012, defunct
- (TA) TACA, 2012-2013, merged with Avianca
- (JJ) TAM Airlines, 2010-2014, joined Oneworld in 2014 and merged with LAN Airlines
- (US) US Airways, 2004-2014, joined Oneworld as an affiliate member of American Airlines
- (RG) Varig, 1997–2007, defunct
SkyTeam, founded in 2000, currently has 20 members:
- (SU) Aeroflot, 2006
- (AR) Aerolíneas Argentinas, 2012
- (AM) Aeroméxico, founder
- (UX) Air Europa, 2007
- (AF) Air France, founder
- (AZ) Alitalia, 2009
- (CI) China Airlines, 2011
- (MU) China Eastern Airlines, 2011
- (CZ) China Southern Airlines, 2007
- (OK) Czech Airlines, 2001
- (DL) Delta Air Lines, founder
- (GA) Garuda Indonesia, 2014
- (KQ) Kenya Airways, 2007
- (KL) KLM, 2004,
- (KE) Korean Air, founder
- (ME) Middle East Airlines, 2012
- (SV) Saudia, 2012
- (RO) TAROM, 2010
- (VN) Vietnam Airlines, 2011
- (MF) Xiamen Airlines, 2012
According to CAPA, SkyTeam currently developing new alliance system for Low-Cost carriers, due to launch this year.
Oneworld, founded in 1999, currently has 14 members:
- (AB) Air Berlin, 2012
- (AA) American Airlines, founder
- (BA) British Airways, founder
- (CX) Cathay Pacific, founder
- (AY) Finnair, 1999
- (IB) Iberia Airlines, 1999
- (JL) Japan Airlines, 2007
- (LA/JJ) LATAM Chile, 2000/LATAM Brasil, 2014
- (MH) Malaysia Airlines, 2013
- (QF) Qantas, founder
- (QR) Qatar Airways, 2013
- (RJ) Royal Jordanian, 2007
- (UL) SriLankan Airlines, 2014
- (S7) S7 Airlines, 2010
Additionally, Aer Lingus will join Oneworld as part of its takeover by International Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia Airlines. It is possible that the future new members Air Tahiti Nui, Interjet, Meridiana and Royal Air Maroc.
Vanilla Alliance, founded in 2015, currently has 5 members:
- (UU) Air Austral, founder
- (MD) Air Madagascar, founder
- (MK) Air Mauritius, founder
- (HM) Air Seychelles, founder
- (I7) Int'Air Îles, founder
U-FLY Alliance, founded in 2016, currently has 5 members:
- (UO) HK Express, founder
- (8L) Lucky Air, founder
- (UQ) Urumqi Air, founder
- (PN) West Air, founder
- (ZE) Eastar Jet
Value Alliance, founded in 2016, currently has 8 members:
Join new member Tigerair Taiwan to 2017.
|Star Alliance||SkyTeam||Oneworld||Value Alliance||U-FLY Alliance||Vanilla Alliance||Industry|
|Passengers per year||641.1 million||665.4 million||557.4 million||47 million||23.6 million||2.3 million||3,570 million|
|Revenue Billion US$||179.05||140.98||130.92||-||-||-||664.4|
|billions RPK||23% (1536)||20.4% (1362)||17.8% (1189)||-||-||-||6,678.694|
|Alliance||Star Alliance||SkyTeam||Oneworld||Value Alliance||U-FLY Alliance||Vanilla Alliance||Industry|
|5-Star||4: NH, OZ, BR, SQ||1: GA||2: CX, QR||8|
|Not rated||1 (MH)||3||4||2|
- In 2005, SkyTeam launched its Associate Program, whereby existing codeshare agreements (such as with Continental Airlines and Copa Airlines) can be integrated into SkyTeam's marketing (shared loyalty programs, etc.).
- On June 19, 2008, Continental Airlines announced that it would be leaving SkyTeam on October 24, 2009. It began to participate in Star Alliance on October 27, 2009 as part of a codesharing agreement with Star Alliance charter member United Airlines (Continental Airlines cut its codeshare ties to Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines). United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged in 2010.
- Olympic Air joined Star Alliance after merging with Aegean Airlines. It is now an affiliate of Star Alliance.
- US Airways merged with American Airlines. The airline joined Oneworld as an affiliate member on March 31, 2014.
- In March 2014, LATAM Brasil (formerly TAM) withdrew from the Star Alliance and joined Oneworld.
Airlines not in any alliances
- (AK) Air Asia
- (NX) Air Macau
- (PG) Bangkok Airways
- (DZ) Donghai Airlines
- (LY) El Al
- (EK) Emirates
- (EY) Etihad Airways
- (G8) GoAir
- (GF) Gulf Air
- (HU) Hainan Airlines
- (6E) IndiGo
- (IR) Iran Air
- (9W) Jet Airways
- (JT) Lion Air
- (W5) Mahan Air
- (WY) Oman Air
- (PK) Pakistan International Airlines
- (PR) Philippine Airlines
- (BI) Royal Brunei Airlines
- (SC) Shandong Airlines
- (3U) Sichuan Airlines
- (SG) SpiceJet
- (9C) Spring Airlines
- (UK) Vistara
- (IY) Yemenia
- (SB) Aircalin
- (PX) Air Niugini
- (TH) Air Tahiti Nui
- (FJ) Fiji Airways
- (VA) Virgin Australia
- (JQ) Jetstar Airways
- (BT) airBaltic
- (JU) Air Serbia
- (FB) Bulgaria Air
- (U2) easyJet
- (BE) Flybe
- (FI) Icelandair
- (A9) Georgian Airways
- (IG) Meridiana
- (ZB) Monarch Airlines
- (DY) Norwegian Air Shuttle
- (PC) Pegasus Airlines
- (FR) Ryanair
- (PS) Ukraine International Airlines
- (U6) Ural Airlines
- (UT) UTair Aviation
- (VS) Virgin Atlantic
- (KM) Air Malta
Notes and references
- Fernandez de la Torre, Pablo E. "Airline alliances : the airline perspective". DSpace@MIT. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
- "Scheduled Passengers Carried". World Air Transport Statistics 60th Edition. IATA.
- Perman, Stacy (2010-09-05). "Virgin's Richard Branson Circles His Wagons". TIME. Retrieved 2011-03-04.
- Bruner, Jon (2011-09-14). "Virgin Atlantic Will Join an Alliance Soon, Says Richard Branson". Forbes.
- Quinn, James (2012-10-26). "Virgin Atlantic to join global airline alliance, says Branson". Telegraph.
- "HNA Group: four airlines form U-FLY Alliance, world's first LCC grouping, showing HNA consolidation". CAPA - Centre for Aviation. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
- "Singapore Airlines’ Low-Cost Carriers, Others Start Alliance". Bloomberg. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
- "Member airline". Star Alliance. June 2013. Archived from the original on 2015-10-17.
- "Bmi Formally Leaves". Star Alliance. 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2012-10-15.
- "Facts and Figures". SkyTeam. 5 March 2014.
- "Oneworld at a glance". Oneworld. 12 May 2014.
- "Aer Lingus Is Rebranding Their Loyalty Program". One Mile at a Time. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
- "Vanilla Alliance agreements signed in Antananarivo". ch-aviation. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
- "UFLY Alliance". www.uflyalliance.com. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
- "Value Alliance". www.valuealliance.com/. Retrieved 2016-05-16.
- "Facts and Figures". Star Alliance. 2 July 2015.
- "Factsheet" (PDF). SkyTeam. Summer 2016.
- "oneworld at a glance". Oneworld. July 2016.
- "About". Value Alliance.
- "The world of air transport, 2014" (PDF). Air Transport Action Group. 2016.
- "Factsheet" (PDF). SkyTeam. March 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-05-30.
- "A-Z Airline Quality Rating". Skytrax. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- "Certified 5-Star Airline Ratings". Skytrax.
- "The world's 4-Star Airlines". Skytrax.
- "3-Star Airlines". Skytrax.
- "2-Star Airlines". Skytrax.
- "1-Star Airlines". Skytrax.
- "SkyTeam Associate Program" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-10-20. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- Continental Airlines – Proud member of Star Alliance. Continental.com (2009-10-27). Retrieved on 2011-03-04.
- "Continental Air Leaving SkyTeam Oct 24 To Join Star Alliance". money.cnn.com. 29 January 2009. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 30 January 2009.
- "TAM and US Airways join oneworld". Oneworld. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Airline alliances.|
- Oneworld: http://www.oneworld.com
- SkyTeam: http://www.skyteam.com
- Star Alliance: http://www.staralliance.com