Although some airlines are true giants in the aviation world, many still use so called alliances. Those agreements between airlines are a useful tool for the airlines to offer a better experience and optimise costs. Let’s take a closer look at which are the airline alliances in the aviation industry and how they work.
Which Are The Airline Alliances?
At the moment of writing this article there are 6 airline alliances active across the world. That being said only 3 are the real big players in the aviation industry. The other 3 are minor players.
The 3 big one are:
- Star Alliance
These three airlines combined carry over 1.8 billion passengers every single year. A staggering amount. This figure is even more impressive if we compare it to the much smaller 382 million passengers per year transported by the 3 smaller groups:
- Value Alliance
- U-Fly Alliance
- Vanilla Alliance
It is no surprise that generally the big airlines of each macro region are equally split across the 3 main alliances. For instance:
- In Europe the Air France-KLM group is part of SkyTeam, Lufthansa in Star Alliance and IAG is part of Oneworld.
- In the United States Delta is a member of SkyTeam, United of Star Alliance and American Airlines of Oneworld.
Which Airlines Are Members of SkyTeam?
At the moment 18 airlines comprise the lineup of SkyTeam. However this number is set to increase to 19 in 2023, when Virgin Atlantic will also join the alliance. The member airlines are:
- Aerolineas Argentinas (Argentina)
- Aeromexico (Mexico)
- Air Europa (Spain)
- Air France (France)
- China Airlines (Taiwan)
- China Eastern (China)
- Czech Airlines (Czechia)
- Delta (United States)
- Garuda Indonesia (Indonesia)
- ITA Airways (Italy)
- Kenya Airways (Kenya)
- KLM (Netherlands)
- Korean Air (South Korea)
- MEA (Lebanon)
- Saudia (Saudi Arabia)
- TAROM (Romania)
- Vietnam Airlines (Vietnam)
- XiamenAir (Cina)
- Virgin Atlantic (United Kingdom from 2023)
Which Airlines are Part of the Oneworld?
13 member airlines are part of the Oneworld alliance. Here’s which ones they are:
- Alaska Airlines (United States)
- American Airlines (United States)
- British Airways (United Kingdom)
- Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)
- Finnair (Finland)
- Iberia (Spain)
- Japan Airlines (Japan)
- Malaysia Airlines (Malaysia)
- Qantas (Australia)
- Qatar Airways (Qatar)
- Royal Air Maroc (Morocco)
- Royal Jordanian (Jordan)
- SriLankan Airlines (Sri Lanka)
Which Airlines Are Part of Star Alliance?
As far as the number of members goes, the largest of the airline alliances is Star Alliance. It can boast 26 members, here are the names:
- Aegean (Greece)
- Air Canada (Canada)
- Air China (China)
- Air India (India)
- Air New Zealand (New Zealand)
- ANA (Japan)
- Asiana (South Korea)
- Austrian Airlines (Austria)
- Avianca (Colombia)
- Brussels Airlines (Belgium)
- Copa Airlines (Panama)
- Croatia Airlines (Croatia)
- Egyptair (Egypt)
- Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopia)
- EVA Air (Taiwan)
- LOT (Poland)
- Lufthansa (Germany)
- SAS (Norway/Denmark/Sweden)
- Shenzhen Airlines (China)
- Singapore Airlines (Singapore)
- South African Airways (South Africa)
- Swiss International Air Lines (Switzerland)
- TAP (Portugal)
- Thai (Thailand)
- Turkish Airlines (Turkey)
- United Airlines (United States)
How Do Alliances Work?
Airlines use alliances to share their destination network. This from a passenger’s perspective allows to book seamlessly flights betwenn destinations not served by the same carrier.
For instance if I were to book a flight from Busan (South Korea) to Nice (France), there is no operator flying a direct route. However because Air France and Korean Air are part of the same alliance I can book a flight for the entire trip on either of their sites.
This is a great advantage for passengers, but also airlines use this system to optimise the load factor on specific flights, while avoiding getting stuck in an unproductive price war.
Also airlines of the same airline alliance allow frequent flyer passengers to gather miles while flying with any of the member carriers. It is also possible to redeem the same frequent flyer miles for award flights with the other airlines of the alliance. Last but not least lounges are also shared across airlines that are part of the same alliance.