Air Transport World

SkyTeam ramps up: global alliances are still vitally relevant, say leaders of the third-largest partnership. (Alliances).(SkyTeam, Star, Wings)

In a period of airline history increasingly marked by the emergence of a hungry and powerful low-cost/low-fare segment, should legacy carriers continue to dedicate substantial management resources toward implementing multinational alliances aimed at capturing high-yield globetrotting executives? Or are leaders of the world's major network airlines guilty of preparing to fight the last war?

Delta Air Lines President and COO Frederick Reid rook a stab at addressing this issue at a recent SkyTeam media briefing held here to mark the group's second year of existence. Low-fare carriers may account for as much as 40% of the industry in the near future, he suggested, but they will be operating alongside "a handful of global, full-service, hub-and-spoke airlines with alliances at the core of their business model. These carriers will be transnational in character, with operations based in two or more countries.

That is the vision driving the six members of SkyTeam--AeroMexico, Air France, Alitalia, GSA Czech Airlines, Delta and Korean Air--admitted latecomers to the alliance game, toward closer integration of their networks. It also helps explain the thinking behind the recently announced partnership between Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines on the one hand and Delta on the other. …

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