NEW YORK, June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The CEOs and Chairmen of SkyTeam today gathered in New York to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the alliance. Since its founding in 2000, SkyTeam has more than tripled its membership, doubled flights and nearly doubled destinations to offer customers easier connections across all continents.
The leaders of SkyTeam reflected on accomplishments of the last decade and outlined strategic focus areas for the next ten years and beyond. The members pledged to intensify cooperation and further develop the network to ensure valuable growth for both customers and members. At the meeting, SkyTeam:
- Signed an agreement with China Eastern to formally begin the process of adding one of China's leading airlines as a SkyTeam member, and
- Renewed its membership program, thereby making Air Europa, Kenya Airways and TAROM full members of the alliance.
From its founding in 2000 by Aeromexico, Air France, Delta Air Lines and Korean Air, SkyTeam has grown to 13 members in 2010, including the recent addition of Vietnam Airlines and this Friday's planned addition of Romanian carrier TAROM. SkyTeam carriers today offer more than 13,000 daily flights to 898 destinations in 169 countries, up from 6,402 daily flights to 451 destinations in 98 countries at its inception.
"During the last 10 years, SkyTeam's experience with ground-breaking mergers and joint ventures has deepened the cooperation among our members, giving our customers access to more markets at lower fares," said SkyTeam Governing Board Chairman Leo van Wijk. "As we look back at SkyTeam's steady growth of members, all are focusing on creating global coverage by linking complementary networks, flying from a few of the best hubs in Europe, the US, Asia and Africa. Today we offer our customers more destinations, more frequencies and more and better connectivity."
"As deregulation and Open Skies agreements opened opportunities for more effective business alignment, SkyTeam emerged as a way for airlines to offer customers more connections across the globe through alliances rather than complex intercontinental mergers. And our growth will continue."
Growth in Asia
During the Governing Board meeting, China Eastern signed an Adherence Agreement with SkyTeam, formally starting its process of joining the alliance. SkyTeam's managing director, Marie-Joseph Male, outlined the value of a second Chinese member in the alliance: "Asia is a very important growth market for SkyTeam, and we are well on track to strengthen our offering in this fast-growing part of the world. With our newest member Vietnam Airlines, and China Eastern joining us in the future, we will offer our customers 10 percent more daily flights than today. Combined with China Southern and Korean Air, these four Asian carriers will further strengthen SkyTeam's presence in Asia and position us for future growth. And we still intend to add more Asian carriers to our group, thus firmly consolidating SkyTeam as 'the' alliance for Asia."
SkyTeam also is focused on growing its presence in other regions of the world, such as Latin America, Southeast Asia and India. "Over the past decade, SkyTeam has played a vital role in extending our customers' reach beyond the many points Delta serves," said Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta and host of the SkyTeam Governing Board in New York. "This will continue as SkyTeam pursues a strategy of valuable growth by recruiting even more members that offer our customers access into new regions."
Renewed membership program
SkyTeam's 10-year anniversary also marks the introduction of a new membership program, to better match with the alliances' growth ambition. The former Associate Airline program served carriers, including current partners of alliance members, who were interested in alliance benefits but did not yet meet all strategic criteria necessary to become full SkyTeam members. It allowed SkyTeam to build a broader network and provide customers with access to additional regions of the world. With a higher degree of maturity reached in alliance development and integration, SkyTeam now fully integrates all members into the alliance. With this reclassification, Air Europa, Kenya Airways and new member TAROM will now be referred to as Member airlines. This change will reinforce the cohesion among the partner airlines. For the customer, there will be no differences.
SkyTeam is a global airline alliance providing customers from member airlines access to an extensive global network with more destinations, more frequencies and more connectivity. Passengers can earn and redeem Frequent Flyer Miles throughout the SkyTeam network. SkyTeam member airlines offer customers over 415 lounges worldwide. The thirteen members are: Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, TAROM Romanian Air Transport and Vietnam Airlines. SkyTeam offers its 395 million annual passengers a worldwide system of more than 13,000 daily flights to 898 destinations in 169 countries. SkyTeam celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2010.