[photopress:air_China_Southern_Airlines.jpg,full,alignright]China Southern Airlines has become the first Chinese carrier to join one of the three major global airline alliances. It has become the 11th full member of SkyTeam which is a worldwide system with 16,400 daily flights and approximately 428 million annual passengers.
Liu Shaoyong, chairman of China Southern, said, ‘SkyTeam is known for its unrivaled global connectivity, and as a member, we can better serve our customers, particularly as the 2008 Beijing Olympics approaches.’
Leo van Wijk, chairman of SkyTeam Governing Board, welcomed the airline and said this brought an opportunity to open special ‘alliance lounges’ in Beijing and Shanghai, as it has done in London’s Heathrow Airport.
This writer, having used this lounge, is less that overwhelmed. It is not in the race with, say, the BA/Qantas lounge at the same terminal.
On top of all SkyTeam benefits, China Southern has designated November 15 as the Alliance Day and is offering a complimentary ticket for any citizen of SkyTeam member countries born on November 15 and who flew on China Southern yesterday.
That does narrow down the number of likely winners somewhat.
SkyTeam is the second largest airline alliance in the world – behind Star Alliance – partnering fourteen carriers from four continents. The benefits are basically the use of lounges and the fact that frequent flyer points from airlines often but not always, are interchangeable.
We are proudly told that in 2005, SkyTeam was the world’s best airline alliance, according to the readers of Global Traveler Magazine. There are so many of these awards made by so many magazines that pretty much they have lost credibility.
The airlines in this alliance are not all equal in world ranking – AeromÃ©xico, Air France, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air, CSA Czech Airlines, Alitalia, Continental Airlines, KLM, Northwest Airlines, Aeroflot. Associate members are Middle East Airlines, Air Europa, Copa Airlines, Kenya Airways
It is just possible that China Airlines and Malaysia Airlines may join in the near future. Being a member of SkyTeam may be seen as a passenger benefit. Having inflight crew like those shown in our illustration probably has a more immediate effect on sales.