SkyTeam Adds Three Partners

SkyTeam added 141 destinations and 10 hubs to its network

SkyTeam added 141 destinations and 10 hubs to its network in one day when Continental, KLM and Northwest joined the global airline alliance last week, making it an even more formidable competitor to Star and Oneworld. The addition of the three airlines had been expected since SkyTeam member Air France acquired KLM earlier this year. Also, KLM’s partner Northwest is already in a domestic alliance with Continental and SkyTeam member Delta.

Applications should come quickly seeking Transportation Department approval to expand alliance code sharing to those carriers. The alliance also will seek to expand antitrust immunity that already applies to Air France, Alitalia, CSA Czech Airlines, Delta and Korean for transatlantic and transpacific operations. Northwest and KLM already have separate immunity on U.S.-Europe routes for their long-standing alliance.

SkyTeam officials boasted that the simultaneous addition of the three new partners “marks the single largest airline integration in aviation history.”

For customers, the additions will expand the number of airlines on which they can redeem frequent flyer miles and on which they can earn points. Customers also gain access to 62 more airport lounges, bringing the total to more than 390.

The alliance’s reach now extends to 658 destinations in 137 countries. And SkyTeam expects to have interline e-ticketing among all its member airlines by the end of 2005.

SkyTeam is due to get even bigger. Earlier this year, it signed agreements with Aeroflot and China Southern to begin the membership process.