The worlds largest airline alliances

The 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. The aim was to save costs and revenue increase. In principle, this alliance was a close collaboration between two airlines from two different continents.

In 1997 the first real alliance was concluded between several airlines, called Star Alliance. Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways and United Airlines were the first members. You can still see this in the Star Alliance logo that consists of five stars. This alliance ensured that competing airlines could not be left behind and that’s how Oneworld came in 1999 and SkyTeam in 2000. Still, these are the only parties that matter in aviation, and the entry of new members keeps the power of these alliances great. The remaining 50% of the passengers in the world are transported by non-affiliated airlines (20% to 25%) and low-cost airlines (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 aviation alliances?

Name: Star Alliance
Founded: 1997
Members: Adria Airways, 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 en United Airlines.
Countries: 193
Airports: 1.317
Passengers per year: 728 million
Update 15-11-2018: As of January 1, 2019, China Southern Airlines is no longer part of SkyTeam, there is speculation about a switch to aviation alliance Oneworld.


Name: SkyTeam
Founded 2000
Members Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Garuda Indonesia, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, Middle East Airlines, Saudia, Tarom, Vietnam Airlines en Xiamen Air.
Countries 177
Destinations: 1.074
Passengers per year: 730 million


Name: Oneworld
Founded: 1999
Members: American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines, Royal Air Maroc.
Countries: 155+
Passengers per year: 530 million

The latest alliances in aviation:

Name: Etihad Airways Partners
Founded: 2014
Members: Etihad Airways, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Jet Airways and Virgin Australia.
Special feature: In 2017, the members Air Berlin, Niki, Darwin Airline and Alitalia (SkyTeam) were retired.


Name: Vanilla Alliance
Founded: 2015
Members: Air Austral, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, Ayr Sechelles and Int’Air Îles.


Name: U-FLY
Founded: 2016
Members: HK Express, Lucky Air, Urumqi Air, West Air and Eastar Jet.


Name: Value Alliance
Founded: 2016
Members: Cebu Pacific, Cebgo, Jeju Air, Nok Air, NokScoot, Scoot, Tigerair Australia en Vanilla Air. 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, see the disclaimer.