Yesterday we reported that Qatar was ready to leave the OneWorld alliance over unfair play from American Airlines. Now, to fully understand the problem, it is important to have a thorough understanding of what airline alliances are, in addition to what they achieve. There are currently three big players in the airline alliance industry. These are OneWorld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam.
What Is An Alliance
An alliance is an agreement between a number of airlines to pool resources. This, in turn, gives them a greater ability to compete against other airlines. The first benefit this brings is Codeshare flights. While codeshare agreements do exist outside of alliances, the highest density will be found within alliance members.
The next biggest benefit is arguably how the airlines share their frequent flyer rewards. With my British Airways Avios, I am able to book reward flights all over the world, as every member of the alliance will accept my points. Likewise, the benefits of frequent flyer status are shared. When I was travelling in America, I was able to use the American Airlines lounges with my British Airways silver status. While this is seen as a benefit for passengers, it is also a huge benefit for the airlines. Take the example given. American Airlines won my business because of the benefits I would receive. Had it not been for the alliance, I would’ve looked at other options too.
Star Alliance was the first of the big three alliances to be established. Based in Frankfurt, the alliance was founded in 1997 by:
- Air Canada;
- Scandinavian Airlines;
- Thai Airways;
- United Airlines.
With a slogan of “The Way The Earth Connects”, the alliance operates over 18,500 departures per day. This is achieved with a combined fleet of over 4,500 aircraft. As such, the alliance had a total passenger count of 728 million a year as of April this year. The alliance has grown in the past 21 years to include a total of 21 member airlines:
Air New Zealand
LOT Polish Airlines
South African Airways
The next airline alliance to join the aviation scene was OneWorld. The alliance was set up in 1999 and is headquartered in New York. As of October 2017, the alliance was carrying 527.9 million passengers per year. This is due to the slightly smaller combined fleet. OneWorld’s combined fleet comes in at just under 3,500 and sees 13,000 daily departures. The alliance was founded by British Airways, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. In the past 19 years, it has grown to a size of 13 member airlines. OneWorld’s slogan is “An alliance of the world’s leading airlines working as one.”
The last of the big three alliances is SkyTeam. SkyTeam is the youngest big alliance having been founded in June 2000. With 20 members, the alliance actually carries the most passengers each year. SkyTeam members transport 730 million passengers each year. The alliance was founded by four airlines. These included:
- Air France;
- Delta Airlines;
- Korean Air.
The alliance now has a combined fleet of just over 4,000 aircraft. This allows the alliance to operate 16,609 daily departures. SkyTeam has the slogan “Caring more about you”.
Which Airline Alliance is your favorite? Let us know in the comments down below!