Confirmed: Air Europa Will Depart SkyTeam Following IAG’s Acquisition

Madrid based Spanish airline Air Europa has made it clear in a one-line statement that they will be leaving the SkyTeam Alliance, following their sale to the IAG International Airlines Group.

Air Europa aircraft in flight
Air Europa will leave SkyTeam. Photo: Air Europa.

When news of the one billion euro deal was announced in a press release from IAG there was no mention of Air Europa leaving SkyTeam despite rumors suggesting they would.

Simple Flying can now report that that is the case, after CH-Aviation said the full analyst presentation of the sale confirmed this in a one-word statement which read: “Air Europa to leave SkyTeam.”

No timeline has been given for Air Europa to leave SkyTeam

Other than this, no other information was available as to when Air Europa would leave SkyTeam or which new alliance it would join. It is probably safe to say that, considering it is going to be integrated into Iberia in the beginning, that it would become a member of the oneworld alliance.

EC-LKX Embraer 195-200LR Air Europa
Air Europa will leave SkyTeam following the sale to IAG.Photo: Steven Byles via Flickr

The move by IAG to purchase Air Europa comes shortly after Chile’s LATAM Airlines announced that it was leaving Oneworld following Delta Airline’s announcement that it would take a major stake in the South American airline.

LATAM Airlines’ departure from Oneworld means that Iberia, British Airways and American Airlines have lost a vital Latin American link to their operations.

Two of IAG’s other airlines are not in any alliance

Air Europa can perhaps fill that void in some small way with its flights to Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. However, it is in no way certain that Air Europa will join oneworld at all, as two of IAG’s other airlines, Vueling and Aer Lingu,s are not members of any alliance.

Air Europa 787 Dreamliner
Air Europa has several routes to South America from Spain. Photo: Boing

Also, for IAG the acquisition of Air Europa now makes them a force to be reckoned with in Spain. Now, they are the owners of the first, second and third biggest airlines in the country. From IAG’s point of view, it’s all about turning Madrid Barajas into a European super-hub while also making it an easier airport to connect from when Brexit happens (if Brexit happens).

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary is not happy about the Air Europa sale

Meanwhile, CH-Aviation is reporting that on a conference call with analysts Ryanair Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said,

“I think it is a good deal for IAG, for [CEO] Willie Walsh. I think it is a bad deal from a competition point of view. It is a merger to monopoly in Madrid Barajas and I think we would certainly be looking for the competition authorities to require some competition divestments, particularly in the Air Europa short-haul.”

Air Europa
We now have to wait and see how Spanish regulators react to the sale. Photo: Air Europa

In terms of short-haul flights departing from Madrid Barajas, Ryanair is the third largest airline in the number of seats it sells behind, first Iberia and then Air Europe.

The bottom line

While I don’t know how Spanish regulators will react to the merger, it will eliminate competition for Iberia on long-haul routes from the Spanish capital and ultimately allow ticket pricing to go up.

Using a poker term, IAG appears to be all-in with its billion euro gamble on Air Europa and turning Madrid Barajas into a major hub.

What do you think, will Air Europa join Oneworld? Please let us know in the comments.