Thursday, October 13, 2011

Join the global airline alliance, bringing greater benefits

COMPETITION in the airline business is indeed becoming even tougher. There are now a greater number of low cost carriers and many of them tend to join in a global alliance to expand their network and reduce costs so that the ticket prices are now ever lower. 

Therefore it is not surprising that even China Airlines have made an alliance with SkyTeam as the 15th member on Sept. 28, 2011. This Taiwan flag carrier and one of the world’s largest cargo airlines is the first Taiwanese airline to join SkyTeam making its position solid as the number one alliance in Greater China. 

From its hub in Taipei, one of Asia’s strongest economies, China Airlines operates a diverse passenger and cargo network throughout the wider Asia Pacific region, North America and Europe, with a total of 224 daily departures to 80 destinations worldwide. The new member also brings three new destinations to the SkyTeam network: Okinawa and Miyazaki, Japan, and Surabaya, Indonesia.

China Airlines complements the network of existing members China Southern and China Eastern and offers an extensive cross-strait operation to 20 major destinations in China. This provides SkyTeam customers with an unrivalled choice of destinations in the Greater China region.

“Thanks to excellent links to a number of existing SkyTeam hubs, China Airlines’ membership adds value to the alliance for both passengers and cargo customers. Adding a quality brand from a strong economic region will support SkyTeam’s focus on our top priority; enhancing our products and services for our customers worldwide,” said Leo van Wijk, SkyTeam’s chairman.

“Joining SkyTeam is an integral part of our strategy for increased international growth and profitability,” said China Airlines’ chairman Chia-Juch Chang. “Today’s milestone is a momentous occasion in our history and we look forward to a future of cooperation and collaboration with our SkyTeam partners, bringing greater benefits to our distinguished passengers.” 

Effective immediately, China Airlines customers will be able to earn and redeem miles on all services operated by SkyTeam member airlines. Members of other SkyTeam airlines’ frequent flyer programs can also earn and redeem miles when flying on any China Airlines operated flight. China Airlines will be included in all SkyTeam global deals, particularly benefiting corporate clients with business interests in Taiwan. 

While including the SkyTeam brand within its identity, China Airlines has also completely refreshed its brand image. The ‘Plum Blossom’ trademark and ‘Chinese Seal’ have been integrated, promoting China Airlines’ corporate identity in a simple and modern design. 

The new logo will soon feature on all signboards, bulletins and travel products for passengers worldwide. China Airlines is also the first SkyTeam member airline to fly a Boeing 747-400 in SkyTeam livery colors. The aircraft was unveiled during the festivities at today’s ceremony.

Besides SkyTeam, there are two major airlines alliances at a global level, One World and Star Allianz. An airlines alliance is an agreement between two or more airlines to cooperate and collaborate at a substantial level. The members of One World, like other airlines alliances, cooperate and collaborate in flight schedules, ticketing, code sharing, frequent flyer programs as well as the joint use of airport lounge. This alliance is the first one to set up a management with headquarters in Vancouver, Canada.

One World was selected as the best airlines alliance in 2004 Business Traveler Awards and World’s Leading Airline Alliance in 2004 World Travel Awards.

Meanwhile Star Alliance, which was launched on May 14, 1997, is the first and until today the largest airlines alliance. It features: 1) Integrated frequent flyer program in which miles can be used within all members of the alliance, 2) Premium customers have access to all airport lounges that belong to alliance members 3) Coordinated schedules to make possible convenient and integrated flights although using different airlines for one ticket, 4) Special price for around the world flights and a number of other special offers and discounts, 5) Integrated customer service so that the image is consistent, and 6) Cooperation and collaboration in IT development among alliance members.

The establishment of Star Alliance triggered the emergence of One World and SkyTeam. These alliances have also created a regional concept to enter the market via regional airline members. Some of the advantages of airline alliances are as follows: a larger network, reduced operational cost due to joint use of the office, maintenance facilities, operational facilities and operational staff. On top of all this customers or passengers also get many benefits, such as low priced tickets, more options for departure time, more destinations, flights that take less time due to maximum transfer time and so forth.

All these facts have been confirmed by Glory Henriette, PR Manager of Singapore Airlines. The route network of Singapore Airlines, including its regional subsidiary airline, SilkAir, and Singapore Airlines Cargo freighter-only destinations covers over 100 destinations. This global network stretches across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the South West Pacific, North and South America, as well as Africa.

Singapore Airlines’ focus, where possible, is adding capacity to existing destinations with high traffic demand or potential for further development. New destinations are added to the network when appropriate. “By entering into commercial alliances, in particular the Star Alliance, Singapore Airlines has strengthened its ability to compete in the fast-changing aviation marketplace. These alliances improve Singapore Airlines’ operational efficiency and offer passengers more travel options and faster, more convenient connections,” said Glory Henriette. (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, October 14, 2011