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Everything about airline alliances and codeshares
Airline Codeshares are business arrangements between two or more airlines where they agree to market and publish a particular flight as part of their own schedule or plan. The actual flight is operated by a single carrier, but all the associated airlines can market that flight and add their own unique flight number to refer to the flight for marketing purposes. This allows various airlines to expand their reach without placing additional planes in the sky.
Benefits for passengers
Codeshares are generally beneficial to the passengers. There are baggage handling agreements between airlines that enable the passengers to check-in their luggage at the initial departure point and collect it automatically at their final destination. This baggage collection doesn't get affected even if there are various layovers and the passengers have multiple terminal and carrier changes along the way. This is especially useful to people going on international flights. Passengers can also enjoy the benefits of accruing and redeeming miles on codeshare carriers in a specific alliance.
An Alliance between airlines refers to the business agreement between two or more carriers to share the same flight. This means that if your ticket states Delta Air Lines, operated by Air France, you would be on an Air France carrier. In this case, Delta is merely the marketing company that's selling you the seats and promoting routes under their own name.
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Top Airline Alliances
There are three major Airline Alliances at present:
Oneworld was founded on February 1, 1999. It is headquartered in New York City and is the third-largest alliance in the world with respect to passengers, carrying more than 527.9 million passengers per year as of October 2017. This alliance has a stated objective to be the first choice airline alliance for the world’s frequent international travelers. Stats until 2017 say that the member airlines of this alliance collectively operate a fleet of 3447 aircraft, serving around 1000 airports in over 158 countries. About 12,738 flights belonging to Oneworld depart per year.
Oneworld has 13 full-member airlines along with about 30 affiliated airlines. Here is a list of the full members:
|Airline Name||Joining Date|
|American Airlines||1 February 1999|
|British Airways||1 February 1999|
|Cathay Pacific||1 February 1999|
|Finnair||1 September 1999|
|Iberia||1 September 1999|
|Japan Airlines (JAL)||1 April 2007|
|Malaysia Airlines||1 February 2013|
|Qantas||1 February 1999|
|Qatar Airways||30 October 2013|
|Royal Air Maroc||1 April 2020|
|Royal Jordanian||1 April 2007|
|S7 Airlines||15 November 2010|
|SriLankan Airlines||1 May 2014|
SkyTeam was founded most recently among the top three alliances, in June of 2000. It is the second-largest airline alliance in the world with its centralized management team in Haarlemmermeer, Netherlands. SkyTeam has an annual passenger count of 630 million as of 2019. It flies to more than 1,150 destinations in over 175 countries with an average count of 14,500 daily flights. This alliance and its members have 750 lounges around the globe. It also operates a cargo alliance with the name SkyTeam Cargo.
SkyTeam has 19 full-member airlines. Here are their names:
|Airline Name||Joining Date|
|Aeroflot||14 April 2006|
|Aerolineas Argentinas||29 August 2012|
|Aeromexico||22 June 2000|
|Air Europa||4 September 2007|
|Air France||22 June 2000|
|Alitalia||27 July 2001|
|China Airlines||28 September 2011|
|China Eastern Airlines||21 June 2011|
|Czech Airlines||25 March 2001|
|Delta Air Lines||22 June 2000|
|Garuda Indonesia||5 March 2014|
|Kenya Airways||4 September 2007|
|KLM||13 September 2004|
|Korean Air||22 June 2000|
|Middle East Airlines||28 June 2012|
|Saudia||29 May 2012|
|TAROM||25 June 2010|
|Vietnam Airlines||10 June 2010|
|Xiamen Air||21 November 2012|
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3. Star Alliance
Star Alliance was founded in May 1997 and is the largest airline alliance in the world. Headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany, Star Alliance has an annual passenger count of 762.27 million as of 2018.
This huge alliance operates a fleet of around 5,033 aircraft, serving over 1,290 airports in 195 countries around the world. It has more than 19,000 daily departures on average. This alliance shares airport terminals and operates with the slogan “The Way the Earth Connects”.
Star Alliance has 26 full members and numerous affiliate airlines. Here are all the current full members:
|Airline Name||Joining Date|
|Aegean Airlines||30 June 2010|
|Air Canada||14 May 1997|
|Air China||12 December 2007|
|Air India||3 July 2014|
|Air New Zealand||3 May 1999|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA)||15 October 1999|
|Asiana Airlines||1 March 2003|
|Austrian Airlines||26 March 2000|
|Avianca||21 June 2012|
|Brussels Airlines||9 December 2009|
|Copa Airlines||21 June 2012|
|Croatia Airlines||18 November 2004|
|Egyptair||11 July 2008|
|Ethiopian Airlines||13 December 2011|
|EVA Air||18 June 2013|
|LOT Polish Airlines||26 October 2003|
|Lufthansa||14 May 1997|
|Scandinavian Airlines||14 May 1997|
|Shenzhen Airlines||29 November 2012|
|Singapore Airlines||1 April 2000|
|South African Airways||10 April 2006|
|Swiss International Air Lines||1 April 2006|
|TAP Air Portugal||14 March 2005|
|Thai Airways||14 May 1997|
|Turkish Airlines||1 April 2008|
|United Airlines||14 May 1997|
More details on Codeshare agreements
The term "codeshare" simply means that one physical flight may operate under several flight numbers. This facilitates the booking, marketing, selling, and promoting of routes that are operated by other carriers. It enables passengers to use all the airline clubs in the airline codeshares. They can use the same boarding practices for all flights sharing the code.
When you buy a ticket through a partner airline’s marketing service, your booking details will state the airline name and flight number with additional text like “operated by [the airline whose airplane you will be boarding]”. But you’ll still be booking or changing a codeshare flight with the non-operating (marketing) airline. The flight information monitors and overhead screens in the terminal will show both the marketing and operating airline flights for the same gate and departure time.
Advantages of airline codeshares
Airlines having codeshare agreements is a practice that provides various benefits to both the passengers and airlines. Here are just a few of them:
- Provides a one-stop reservation and ticketing facility.
- Allows you to book journeys that wouldn’t exist otherwise, since a single carrier often doesn’t operate the full route that you desire.
- Provides coordinated schedules for easier connections and saves your time.
- Gives airlines the ability to market the service of more destinations when they simply codeshare to a certain destination.
- Passengers can usually earn extra points and miles in the program of the airlines that have codeshare flights.
Potential issues with codeshares
There can be some pitfalls associated with booking and using airline codeshare flights and routes:
- The operating airline under a codeshare agreement may have baggage policy and pricing that differs from that of the marketing airline.
- Some airlines may sell a premium economy seat for a flight, but if the operating carrier does not offer premium economy, you may have to be seated in the normal economy seat without compensation.
Codeshare information for popular airlines
- American Airlines
The American Airlines Group page provides information on the Oneworld alliance as well as regional carriers under codeshare agreements. The Partner airlines page provides the list of all Oneworld as well as other partner airlines to the company. A dedicated Oneworld airline partners page will guide you to individual codeshare and partner airlines where you can find information on the codeshare routes and airport connections.
- Delta Air Lines
The codeshare partners for Delta Air Lines include GOL, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Australia, WestJet, China Southern, Silver Airways, Transavia, Delta Private Jets, and all the SkyTeam Partners that were mentioned above.
- Frontier Airlines
Frontier Airlines has codeshare partnership with Volaris Mexico. You can book flights on Frontier – Volaris codeshare routes by going to www.flyfrontier.com, or through other methods mentioned on their codeshare partners page.