SkyTeam is seeing strong momentum in network development on a global and market
level. China Southern continues to make progress on fulfilling alliance
joining requirements and as Portugalia Airlines takes the first steps
toward becoming a SkyTeam Associate Airline.
The announcement was made
during a press briefing in conjunction with the SkyTeam Governing Board’s
meeting today in Paris. In addition to network development, the executives
provided updates on key SkyTeam service areas.
SkyTeam continues to build its world network as it targets regions of
key growth and connectivity.
During the meeting, the executives reflected on the addition of
Aeroflot, one month after SkyTeam officially welcomed the airline as the
tenth alliance member. With the addition of Aeroflot, SkyTeam’s network now
serves 373 million passengers with nearly 15,000 daily flights to more than
728 destinations worldwide.
Alliance executives reported that China Southern is on track to become
a full member of SkyTeam. Experts from the airline and alliance are working
together to ensure finalization of this process takes place next year.
China is one of the fastest growing airline markets in the world and
presents opportunities for SkyTeam. As the largest airline in the People’s
Republic of China, China Southern’s addition to SkyTeam will expand the
alliance’s service in key regions, while adding a well-positioned, modern
hub in Guangzhou airport to the alliance’s hub network.
Also during the meeting, SkyTeam announced Portugalia Airlines as the
next Associate Airline candidate. The SkyTeam Associate Program serves
carriers, including current partners of alliance members, who are
interested in alliance benefits but may not meet all strategic criteria
necessary to become full SkyTeam members. Portugalia is expected to
complete all joining requirements and achieve SkyTeam Associate Airline
status by 2008. Air France will serve as the airline’s sponsor, liaising
between Portugalia and SkyTeam, facilitating its integration, as well as
representing Portugalia in SkyTeam decisions.
“SkyTeam is experiencing strong momentum and is poised for continued
growth over the next few years,” said Jean-Cyril Spinetta, chairman and
chief executive officer of Air France. “As we welcome Portugalia’s interest
in our Associate Program, we look forward to strengthening our already
robust European network and increasing our connectivity to and within North
Africa, providing our passengers even more flexibility and choice in air
As announced previously, the Associate Program extends SkyTeam’s
benefits to more passengers. As part of their involvement with SkyTeam,
Associate Airlines will adhere to key alliance customer programs, including
frequent flyer reciprocity, lounge access and codeshare agreements. Current
Associate Airline candidates include Air Europa of Spain, Copa of Panama,
Kenya Airways, Middle East Airlines of Lebanon and Tarom of Romania.
Portugalia serves nearly one million passengers annually. With a fleet
of 17 aircraft, the airline flies to 20 destinations in six countries,
serving cities in Europe and North Africa.