What is an airline alliance?
An airline alliance is an arrangement between two or more airlines that lays the foundation for substantial cooperation. There is no uniform structure to these alliances and each one is unique. Airlines enter into alliances so offer a wider range of destinations and more convenient connections, while also sharing passengers with one another rather than competitors.
How do airlines benefit from airline alliances?
Many airlines decide to join an airline alliance because it makes codesharing possible. This means that an airline is able to publish and market a flight under its own airline designator and flight number, when it may in fact be operated by multiple airlines. This effectively boosts the number of destinations that an airline can offer.
Airline alliances also help participating airlines to cut down on costs. Codesharing means that the number of sales offices and personnel can be reduced, as well as maintenance and operational facilities. The number of operational staff can also be reduced, as well as the volume and price of investments and purchases.
How do travelers benefit from airline alliances?
Airline alliances can create a range of benefits for travelers. Given that airline alliances reduce operational costs for airlines, travelers can enjoy lover prices on a wider range of destinations.
Code sharing also means that travelers have a wider range of departure times and that travel times are often significantly reduced thanks to this optimization. Airport lounges are also more comfortable and can be shared by airlines.
If the traveler is a frequent flyer with a given alliance, they also have the potential to earn miles on a single account while flying with a range of carriers. The rise of airline alliances have also made cost-effective round-the-world travel possible.
How do airline alliances negatively affect travelers?
Unfortunately, airline alliances can also negatively affect the traveler experience. If an airline alliance defeats the competition on a given route, for example, then prices can rise significantly for travelers.
Paradoxically, airline alliances can also lead to less frequent flights and this can have an impact on convenience. If two separate airlines share a route, the forging of an alliance could mean that fewer flights are offered.
How many airline alliances are there?
There are currently six significant airline alliances in operation. The largest is the Star Alliance which accommodates for 23% of all scheduled traffic in revenue passenger miles. This is closely follow by SkyTeam which has 20.4% and Oneworld which boasts 17.8%.
The three remaining alliances are the Vanilla Alliance, U-FLY Alliance, and the Value Alliance.
Which was the first airline alliance?
The first airline alliance was technically formed in the 1930’s between Panair do Brasil and Pan American World Airways. The two airlines agreed to exchange routes throughout Latin America.
It was not until 1989 that the world’s first large airline alliance began when Northwest Airlines and KLM established a codesharing partnership. From this moment onward, a range of alliances began to emerge and the Star Alliance was created in 1997.
What are rail-air alliances?
Airlines and railway operators often sign cooperation agreements, meaning that travelers are able to take high speed trains using the same “flight” number. These partnerships can offer superior prices to travelers, allowing them to save money on what would be an expensive trip if the flight and train tickets were booked separately.