Skyteam network “more or less completed”

8 Nov 2011 by BusinessTraveller
Skyteam's CEO Michael Wisbrun says the alliance's network is “more or less completed”, and plans to focus on improving aspects of customer experience, with a Skyteam-branded lounge at Beijing, and a “new and unique” product for premium travellers set to be unveiled next year. Speaking at this week's World Travel Market at London's Excel, Wisbrun said the alliance would put “all our energy into customer benefits”, as a way of improving the value of Skyteam's network. Initiatives include a second Skyteam-branded lounge at Beijing airport, following on from the launch of its dedicated lounge at Heathrow Terminal 4 in 2009 (for more details click here). Wisbrun said that aside from improving the customer experience, the branded lounge concept delivers costs savings for participating airlines of around 50 per cent compared with offering individual lounges within the same airport, and he added that “over time” the alliance would look to open a similar branded facility in Tokyo. Skyteam will also launch a “new and unique” ground product for its premium customers in the second quarter of 2012, the details of which will be unveiled early next year. In addition Wisbrun said the alliance “will invest heavily in our IT infrastructure”, in order to improve connectivity and standards of communication between member carriers. Skyteam's membership currently stands at 15 airlines, with four more due to join the fold – Aerolineas Argentinas, Middle East Airlines (MEA)Garuda Indonesia and Saudi Arabian Airlines. Wisbrun pointed to the alliance's strong presence in China, with China Southern, China Eastern and China Airlines all now Skyteam members, but while he feels the alliance's network is now “more or less completed”, he admitted to white spots in the emerging markets of Brazil and India. India in particular has been a headache for the major airline alliances, with Star Alliance recently putting on hold its membership integration of Air India, citing the failure to meet minimum joining conditions (see online news August 1). Rival carrier Kingfisher Airlines announced plans last year to join Oneworld (see online news February 23, 2010), although according to a recent report by Reuters India the cash-strapped carrier has been forced to temporarily suspend over 30 routes due to slow demand. Kingfisher has yet to make a profit since its launch in 2005. For more information visit Report by Mark Caswell
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