At the beginning of this month we were reminded of Lufthansa’s interest in a restructured Alitalia. According to Reuters, the German flag carrier is ready to invest as much as €200 million into the struggling Italian airline. As far as alliances go, much of the Lufthansa Group is part of the Star Alliance. On the other hand, Alitalia is a member of rival alliance, SkyTeam. So would an investment by Lufthansa result in Alitalia leaving SkyTeam?
“The Italian market is very important to us. We have always stressed our interest in a restructured Alitalia. A commercial partnership is also conceivable for the Lufthansa Group. We do not comment on any further speculations.” -Lufthansa Spokesperson
The short answer would seem to be yes. It’s hard to think of an airline that is heavily supported by another airline of a competing alliance. Etihad had invested in Alitalia but it was not itself in an alliance. Delta, a SkyTeam alliance member, has a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic – but the latter is also outside of the big three alliances.
However, we do have some strong examples where alliance-airlines have invested in airlines from other alliances and demonstrated that a shift usually takes place. Firstly, earlier this week Simple Flying reported that Air Europa will leave SkyTeam. This news followed after we found out that IAG would purchase the Spanish airline. Many of IAG’s airlines are in the oneworld alliance.
Secondly, LATAM has announced it intends to leave the oneworld alliance. This news comes after Delta Air Lines announced it would purchase a 20% stake in the South American carrier. LATAM has a further history of alliance shifting: When LAN and TAM merged to form LATAM, TAM left the Star Alliance so that the group could remain in oneworld.
Into the Star Alliance?
If Lufthansa goes through with its investment into Alitalia, could we see the Italian carrier join the Star Alliance? Well, with much of Europe and the Mediterranean region already covered by Star Alliance airlines, we can certainly say that there isn’t exactly a need in terms of coverage.
However, Lufthansa would obviously have an interest in Alitalia’s success. Alliance membership would certainly give Alitalia a boost if travelers from other Star Alliance airlines knew they could use their status and benefits with the airline. This would also go the other way with Italian travelers having more incentive to choose Alitalia over non Star Alliance airlines.
Of course, all of this remains hypothetical until we find out what will actually happen with Alitalia. We may not fully find out the fate of Alitalia for a few more weeks. According to Aviation Week reports, an October 23rd statement puts the new deadline for a rescue plan for November 21st. So we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Would you be sad to see Alitalia leave SkyTeam? Are you loyal to a particular alliance? We would love to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment and let us know!
We checked in with Lufthansa to see if they had any comment. However, no response was received at the time of publishing this article.