”Caring more about you”: A close-up look at SkyTeam member airlines

In aviation, three airline alliances are formed to provide passengers with the smoothest global connectivity and seamless flying experience. They are Star Alliance (26 full members), Oneworld (13 full members), and SkyTeam (18 full members). SkyTeam is the youngest global alliance founded in June 2000 by four carriers viz. Delta, Aeromexico, Air France, and Korean Air. Despite being the last of three alliances to be formed, SkyTeam hosts some of the longest-running airlines in the world. Which airlines are members of the SkyTeam alliance? Let’s take a close look at SkyTeam airlines.

Starting with four founding carriers in 2000 to 18 full members at present, SkyTeam has come a long way. SkyTeam is a family of the world’s best airlines that shares a ‘customer first’ ethos and operates with the slogan ‘Caring more about you .’All SkyTeam airlines are major players in air travel and leverage alliance benefits to expand their global network and deliver more value to customers.

First of all, here are some details about four SkyTeam founding carriers:

1. Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines is a major US legacy carrier and one of four Skyteam founding members. Founded on March 2, 1925, Delta is one of the world’s oldest airlines, still surviving in its original form. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta runs the world’s largest airline hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Int. Airport. The carrier operates over 1,000 daily flights from its mega hub to an extensive network of 225 destinations worldwide.

Delta Airlines Airbus A350-941 , photo by SK with lens

In addition to its Atlanta powerhouse, Delta also operates hubs at eight other major airports in the US. These include Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW), Los Angeles (LAX), and Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), New York JFK, LaGuardia (LGA), Salt Lake City (SLC), and Seattle (SEA).

The Atlanta-based carrier is the world’s biggest public airline company in terms of revenue at 35.1 US billion. It also holds one of the top spots among the world’s largest airlines by fleet size, millions of passengers carried, number of destinations served, etc. Delta routes 80+ million passengers annually to more than 242 destinations across 52 countries. It has a systemwide fleet of 917 Boeing and Airbus widebody and narrowbody jets.

2. Air France

The flag carrier of France, Air France, is one of the long-established SkyTeam airlines headquartered in Tremblay-en-France. It is a SkyTeam founding member that connects its strong European network with the extensive global reach of SkyTeam partners. Established on October 7, 1933, Air France boasts nearly 90 years of flight history. The carrier runs its massive hub at Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and maintains small-scale hubs at five domestic airports. They are Bordeaux-Merignac Airport, Lyon-Saint-Exupery Airport, Marseille Province Airport, Nice Airport, and Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

Vancouver, Canada – July 3, 2017: An Air France Airlines Boeing 777 plane being serviced on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport.

The French flagship airline flies domestically to 29 cities and internationally to 201 destinations in 94 countries. Besides having enviable European connectivity, Air France also has a considerable presence in North and South Americas. It operates some lucrative transatlantic routes like Paris-New York, Paris-Los Angeles, etc.

Regarding its fleet size, this SkyTeam airline operates 204 passenger aircraft. Air France’s fleet is dominated by Airbus aircraft with 18 A220-300s, 9 A318-100s, 15 A319-100s, 39 A320-200s, 4 A321-200s, 15 A330-200s, and 20 A350-900 jets. Boeing aircraft comprise 34% of the carrier’s fleet and include 18 B777-200ERs, 43 B777-300ERs, and 10 B787-9s.

3. Aeromexico

Aeromexico, another founding airline of SkyTeam, is a flag carrier of Mexico with scheduled services to 90+ destinations. Headquartered in Mexico City, it concentrates passenger traffic and flight operations mainly from Mexico City International Airport. The airline also maintains secondary hubs in Guadalajara and Monterrey to expand its geographic coverage.

Aeromexico has a firm grasp over the air travel market in Mexico but a limited presence in Europe and Asia. The carrier serves most destinations in North America with regularly scheduled flights to the US, Canada, and Costa Rica. The carrier’s Caribbean and Latin American network includes destinations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru.

Aeromexico is an all-Boeing aircraft operator, i.e., all aircraft flown by the carrier are manufactured by Boeing Company. The carrier currently has 107 Boeing jets in active service, including B737-700/800/Max 8/Max 9s and B787-8/9s.

4. Korean Air

Korean Air is a SkyTeam founding member offering an expanded flight network to its customers since June 2000. It is one of the significant SkyTeam airlines enhancing the alliance’s Asian network and service to/from Seoul and Gimpo. Not only is Korean Air the flag carrier of South Korea, but also the country’s largest airline by fleet size and foreign destinations served.

This five-star airline maintains hubs at Incheon International Airport (ICN), the primary gateway to Seoul, and Gimpo International Airport (GMP). Although Korean Air has limited domestic services, its international routes are extensive. Its Asian route map includes major airports in China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and India. It also connects Korea to the US, Mexico, and Canada in North America.

Korean Air A380 at Sydney Photo from Annes Sapkota

Korea Air’s fleet is a mix of Boeing and Airbus narrowbodies and widebodies. The airline has altogether 155 jets in service for passenger and cargo operations.

SkyTeam Airlines, which joined the alliance before 2010

The first non-founding member airline to join SkyTeam was Czech Airlines on March 25, 2001. As the name suggests, Czech Airlines is the national airline of the Czech Republic, with a primary hub at Vaclav Havel Airport, Prague. Czech Airlines suffered the worst hit of the COVID-19 pandemic and headed to bankruptcy in March 2021. At present, the airline operates flights only to Paris under a new parent company called Prague City Air. It just has one Airbus A320-200 in its fleet but plans to lease three more A320s this year.

Apart from Czech Airlines, there’s one more airline that became a SkyTeam member before 2010.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, a part of the Air France-KLM group, joined SkyTeam on September 13, 2004. It is the oldest SkyTeam airline that has been operating flights since the early days of commercial aviation. KLM began its life on October 7, 1919, and is now running in its 103rd year of operation. It is a flagship airline of the Netherlands and maintains its primary hub at Amsterdam Airport Schipol. KLM spreads its wings to over 160 destinations in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia. Thanks to the SkyTeam alliance, KLM customers can enjoy a global network of flights to 1,062 destinations in 170 countries.

Kenya Airways, the flag carrier airline of Kenya, gained its full membership in SkyTeam on September 4, 2007. Air Europa, a Mallorca-based airline, also joined the alliance the same day.

SkyTeam Airlines, which joined the alliance in 2010

The global coverage of the SkyTeam airline alliance increased with the entry of two airlines in 2010. They were Vietnam Airlines, the flag carrier of Vietnam, and TAROM, the national carrier of Romania. Both carriers joined the team of SkyTeam airlines in June 2010 (Vietnam Airlines on June 10 and TAROM in 2010).

With hubs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Airlines serves 64 destinations spanning Asia, Europe, and North America. It operates a narrowbody fleet of Airbus A320 and A321neo family aircraft and a widebody fleet of Boeing Dreamliners.

TAROM has a comprehensive flight network comprising 50 destinations (including charter and seasonal) in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Domestically, it serves airports in Arad, Baia Mare, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Craiova, Iasi, Oradea, Satu Mare, Suceava, Targu Mures, and Timisoara.

Carriers that became SkyTeam members after 2010

Many of the full members of SkyTeam joined the alliance after 2010. Two Chinese carriers, namely China Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, became SkyTeam airlines in 2011. The arrival of two Chinese airlines bolstered the alliance’s Chinese network and services from Taipei-Taoyuan, Kunming, and Shanghai.

The year 2012 was fruitful for SkyTeam due to the entry of four new airlines. They were Aerolineas Argentinas (August 29), Middle East Airlines (June 28), Saudia (May 29), and XiamenAir (November 21). The national airline of Argentina, Aerolineas Argentinas, is the only SkyTeam airline from South America.

Garuda Indonesia, the flagship airline of Indonesia, got the full SkyTeam membership on March 5, 2014.

The latest airline to join the globe-leading SkyTeam Alliance is ITA Airways, the state-run flag carrier of Italy. It is an anointed successor to the defunct Alitalia, which was once the largest Italian airline + flag carrier. ITA Airways commenced its operations on October 15, 2021, and joined the alliance 14 days later.

Future SkyTeam airline

Virgin Atlantic, a leading British airline, is set to become the newest full member of SkyTeam from March 2, 2023. Upon its entry, it will be SkyTeam’s first and only UK member airline, linking its strong transatlantic network with the worldwide reach of alliance partners.

SkyTeam airlines loyalty offerings

Beyond a seamless travel experience with a global network of flights, SkyTeam customers also benefit from valuable loyalty offerings. Frequent flyers that have earned status with one member airline will get loyalty benefits across the alliance. The more they fly, the more miles they earn, which are redeemable for awards on SkyTeam-operated flights. (Note: there is no separate loyalty program for SkyTeam)

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