Yet another new alliance of strong international airlines greets the market this month. Local representatives from Korean Air, Delta, Air France and Aeromexico are ready to visit Greek travel agents and inform them on the new “Sky Team” alliance created by the four airlines.
Besides a two-week sales blitz in 15 European cities, the airlines’ representatives will create a road show to promote the launch of the new alliance, which will include a reception/dinner for at least 200 travel agents in each of the 15 cities.
Of particular interest to agents should be the fact that Delta and Air France control slots at two of the world’s busiest airports, Atlanta and Charles de Gaulle. The former is one of the few in the world that has expansion capabilities.
According to figures for passengers flown in 1998, Delta holds the number one spot in the world with 105.3 million passengers carried and Air France holds number 10 spot with 33.5 million passengers carried.
With the launch of Sky Team, there are now four world airline alliances- Star Alliance (Air New Zealand, Air Canada, All Nippon Airways, Ansett Australia, Austrian Airlines, Lauda Air, Lufthansa, SAS, Singapore, Thai, Tyrolean, United, Varig), Oneworld (Air Lingus, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, LanChile, Quantas), Wings (Northwest, KLM, Continental, Alitalia) and Sky Team.
Mergers, however, are not uncommon. Presently merger talks are underway in Europe between KLM and British Airways. In the U.S., Delta and American the world’s second and third largest airlines, are in preliminary merger talks.
But even alliances have difficulties because the European Commission is now examining the competitive impact the global alliances, such as Star and Oneworld. Once Wings and Sky Team have been officially launched its quite possible the EU will inspect the impact these alliances will have on competion. Sky Team, however, does not anticipate problems.