CAPE TOWN, South Africa, June 3, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- SkyTeam, the global airline alliance, is re-enforcing its focus on customer-based initiatives that ensure improved service offering whilst delivering more benefits for its membership throughout SkyTeam's global network.

"With our global network almost complete, our priority is now shifting to creating a seamless travel experience for our customers," said Michael Wisbrun, SkyTeam's managing director. "SkyTeam's key driver so far has been on gaining global presence, and now provides a network with access to the most relevant traffic flows worldwide. But the next stage of cooperation is about developing customer products and services that bring seamlessness to a new level."

Creating efficiency and seamlessness
With more than 30 million passengers transferring among the members annually, closer cooperation between airlines and airports has been developed under the SkyTransfer initiative. Focus is on improving customer transfers from one member to another by developing new efficiencies, as well as transfer and service recovery standards, starting with SkyTeam's largest hubs. These include Amsterdam, Atlanta, Rome, Paris CDG, Mexico City, Seoul, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. It is estimated that this will lead to an average cost savings of about 15M Euros annually on transfer related costs.

Improved customer service
SkyTeam launched its flagship customer-focused initiative, SkyPriority, in March 2012.  Offering a series of premium airport services for Elite Plus, First and Business Class customers, SkyPriority has now been implemented throughout 75% of SkyTeam's global network and will be available at each of SkyTeam's 1,000 global destinations by the end of 2013.  In addition, the program is being extended to include, amongst others, more dedicated security lanes, and dedicated SkyPriority call centres to provide essential support to high value customers. Other additions include dedicated SkyPriority baggage desks at arrival halls.

Delivering synergies
With its global network almost complete, SkyTeam is working to fast-track initiatives that augment benefits offered to members.  These include SkyPort, which is focused on increasing co-location of airport facilities to ease the customer experience while reducing costs.  SkyTeam will open 3 more co-branded lounges with Istanbul being opened this month; Sydney before the end of 2013 and Beijing in early 2014. The new lounges will reduce combined costs by approximately 10% at these airports.

To get the most out of travelling with SkyTeam, travel products have been developed and upgraded to meet customer needs. Booking facilities will be added to the online Round the World planning application before year's end. The recently enhanced Global Meetings product offers more convenience and more attractive pricing, through a new online booking tool for a minimum of 50 delegates featuring a wide range of fare discounts off published fares.

"Every initiative SkyTeam develops has benefits both for its members and most importantly for the customers," continued Wisbrun. "It's not about simply being the biggest in scale, we must evolve and facilitate in the development and implementation of such customer focused initiatives. SkyTeam is dedicated to taking seamlessness to the next level and demonstrating we are the alliance that cares more about the needs of our customers," notes Wisbrun.

Addition of Garuda strengthens Southeast Asian network     
SkyTeam confirms that it will welcome Garuda Indonesia as its 20th member in March, 2014.  The national airline of Indonesia, Garuda will be SkyTeam's second member from Southeast Asia.

"Garuda Indonesia's domestic and growing international network will give SkyTeam a footprint in Indonesia, as we strengthen our presence in the Southeast Asia region," said Michael Wisbrun. "Garuda has worked hard to meet the membership criteria required by SkyTeam, including implementing a new IT platform, and we look forward to welcoming the airline in March next year."

About SkyTeam
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 access to 525 lounges worldwide. The nineteen members are: Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeroméxico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines and Xiamen Airlines. SkyTeam offers its 552 million annual customers over 15,000 daily flights to 1,000 destinations in 187 countries. / /


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