Several of the largest airlines in the world have teamed up to combine routes, creating the world’s largest trans-Atlantic flight network. Alitalia signed an agreement to join Air France, Delta and KLM and share revenue and costs. The new combination will operate 26% of all trans-Atlantic flights, with almost 55,000 seats on 250 flights. The total revenue from this trans-Atlantic capacity is estimated to be more than $10 billion.
Unlike some airline collaborations, this new alliance actually appears to help air passengers by allowing airlines to create new routes they normally may not have considered. The network also allows for seamless ticketing and baggage handling between the U.S. and European gateway airport. Examples of new routes include Delta non-stop flights from Atlanta to London Heathrow and Portland to Amsterdam.
The hub cities for the network are Amsterdam, Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York JFK and Paris CDG. Part of the joint venture will include codeshare flights (when allowed). The trans-Atlantic alliance is separate from the already existing Skyteam alliance.
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Continental just issued a press release saying that they’re entering a cooperative agreement with United Airlines, saying the two airlines will “cooperate extensively, linking their networks and services worldwide to the benefit of customers, and creating revenue opportunities and cost savings and other efficiencies.” This means that Continental will also join United in the Star Alliance.
For those of you who follow airline alliances, this means that CO will be dropping Skyteam, whose partners include Delta, KLM and Northwest, and picking up partners such as Lufthansa and US Airways.
Basically, Continental Onepass members won’t be able to accrue or spend miles on Skyteam anymore (similarly, partner airlines can’t spend miles on CO), but they can on Star.
It does not, however, mean that the airlines are merging — only that they’ll be collaborating on many routes, codeshares and other logistics.
In the current airline industry, this change was almost inevitable. Carriers are looking at ways to collaborate on operations and cut costs, just like Northwest and Delta announced earlier this year. With the two airlines’ combined routes and networks, a stronger entity will now exist that can better compete with the soon to be uber Delta Airlines.
No word yet on when exactly the alliance changes will take place and a schedule for the official divorce from Skyteam airlines. But if you were thinking about booking a ticket with your Skyteam miles on CO, now might be a good time to do it.