The world’s largest airline alliances

Star Alliance, SkyTeam and Oneworld alliances currently transport around 50% of all passengers worldwide. In 1989, KLM and Northwest Airlines were the first airlines to start an alliance. It was their aim was to save costs and increase revenue. In fact, this alliance was a close collaboration between two airlines from two different continents.

In 1997 the first real alliance was founded between several airlines, called Star Alliance. Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways and United Airlines were the first members. It is still visible in the Star Alliance logo consisting of five stars. In response, competing airlines founded their own alliances, Oneworldin 1999 and SkyTeam in 2000. Still, these are the only alliances that matter in aviation, with the entry of new member the power of these alliances remains great. The remaining 50% of the passengers in the world are transported by non-affiliated airlines (20% to 25%) and low-cost carriers (25% to 30%).

Benefits of alliances for passengers

  • More destinations through greater choice of flights and routes, alliances enable large airlines to serve small markets and vice versa;
  • Connections are better because airlines’ flight schedules are adapted to each other, saving time;
  • Save frequent flyer points faster; the same points can be saved on all members’ flights;
  • More service because some airlines offer more than economy class and business class and more airport lounges can be used.

Disadvantages alliances for passengers

  • Booking a flight ticket can be confusing, so you can book with an airline and fly with another airline that is a member of the same alliance;
  • Rebooking an airline ticket is more difficult, airlines work together so that an aircraft can be fully booked  in advance;
  • Not all airlines apply the same rules regarding saving frequent flyer points.
  • Less service because alliance partners have a lower standard than what you are used to with your regular airline.

Time and money can be an advantage and disadvantage

Time: Collaboration can lead to more choice and that you can fly at multiple times. On the other hand, cooperation can ensure that airlines reduce the number of flights to destinations they both serve to increase capacity utilisation.

Money: Cooperation, as so often leads to cost reduction, reduces operating costs, making it cheaper to offer tickets. But if an alliance becomes too dominant on a specific route, this can have a negative influence on the price; less competition will result in a higher price.

What are the largest airline alliances?


Star Alliance
Founded: 1997
Number of members: 26
Members: Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines and United Airlines.
Connecting Partners: Juneyao Air, Thai Smile Airways
Countries: 195
Airports: 1,317
Passengers per year: 728 million

 


SkyTeam
Founded: 2000
Number of members: 19
Members: Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, ITA Airways, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, Tarom, Vietnam Airlines and XiamenAir.
Countries: 170
Destinations: 1,036
Passengers per year: 730 million

 


Oneworld
Founded: 1999
Number of members: 14
Members: Alaska Airlines (since 2021), American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, Royal Air Maroc (since 2020), S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines. As of May 1, 2020, LATAM Airlines is no longer part of Oneworld.
Connect Partners: Fiji Airwys
Countries: 170+
Destinations: 1,000+
Passengers per year: 540 million

Smaller airline alliances

 

 


Vanilla Alliance
Founded: 2015
Number of members: 5
Members: Air Austral, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, Ayr Sechelles and Int’Air Îles.

 


U-FLY, the world’s first LCC alliance
Founded: 2016
Number of members: 5
Members: HK Express, Lucky Air, Urumqi Air, West Air and Eastar Jet.

 


Value Alliance
Founded: 2016
Number of members: 5
Members: Cebu Pacific, Cebgo, Jeju Air, Nok Air and Scoot.

AirMundo.com offers free airport information through its own websites and partners. The use of this data is only permitted for non-commercial purposes, provided that the source is mentioned. Use for commercial purposes requires permission from AirMundo.com, see the disclaimer.