Today was a big day for new additions to global alliances. To be fair, these are just the announcements of additions but in the near future oneworld and SkyTeam fliers will have more options for mileage earning and redemption.
First up, SkyTeam. Air Europa, Copa Airlines, and Kenya Airways all signed up as associate members. Air Europa is based in Spain and flies to sun spots around the world so that frozen Europeans can warm up. Copa, formerly partially owned by SkyTeam member Continental, connects North and South America through its hub in Panama. Kenya Airways is probably the most exciting addition because it opens up an entire new continenta. From its Nairobi home in East Africa, the airline flies to Europe, Asia, West Africa, and Southern Africa.
Now, I’m not exaclty sure it was it means to be an associate member, but it probably means they have to get coffee and pick up dry cleaning for the primary members. I imagine the rules for joining as an associate are less strict so it’s easier to join. In the end though, they will have earn/burn ability for frequent flier miles, codesharing, and lounge sharing so the customer will benefit.
SkyTeam’s US members are Northwest, Continental, and Delta, at least until some merger happens and changes everything around.
Next up is oneworld. They said yesterday that as of April 1, Malev, Royal Jordanian, Japan Airlines (JAL), and all its affiliates will join the group. Also that day, Aer Lingus will leave the alliance and go it alone saying that everything is just fine, they’re at the controls, flying the plane, free to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.
Malev is based in Budapest (Hungary), Royal Jordanian in Amman (Jordan, duh), and JAL in Tokyo. They all fly to destinations on several continents. American is the US airline in this alliance.
Hong Kong’s Dragonair, along with LAN Ecuador and LAN Argentina will join sometime later this year as well marking a pretty strong expansion by the alliance.