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Airlines, Alliances & Codeshares

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Everything about airline alliances and codeshares

Codeshare Agreements

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.

Airline Alliances

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:

1. Oneworld

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.

Member airlines

Oneworld has 13 full-member airlines along with about 30 affiliated airlines. Here is a list of the full members:

Airline NameJoining Date
American Airlines1 February 1999
British Airways1 February 1999
Cathay Pacific1 February 1999
Finnair1 September 1999
Iberia1 September 1999
Japan Airlines (JAL)1 April 2007
Malaysia Airlines1 February 2013
Qantas1 February 1999
Qatar Airways30 October 2013
Royal Air Maroc1 April 2020
Royal Jordanian1 April 2007
S7 Airlines15 November 2010
SriLankan Airlines1 May 2014

2. Skyteam

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.

Member airlines

SkyTeam has 19 full-member airlines. Here are their names:

Airline NameJoining Date
Aeroflot14 April 2006
Aerolineas Argentinas29 August 2012
Aeromexico22 June 2000
Air Europa4 September 2007
Air France22 June 2000
Alitalia27 July 2001
China Airlines28 September 2011
China Eastern Airlines21 June 2011
Czech Airlines25 March 2001
Delta Air Lines22 June 2000
Garuda Indonesia5 March 2014
Kenya Airways4 September 2007
KLM13 September 2004
Korean Air22 June 2000
Middle East Airlines28 June 2012
Saudia29 May 2012
TAROM25 June 2010
Vietnam Airlines10 June 2010
Xiamen Air21 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”.

Member airlines

Star Alliance has 26 full members and numerous affiliate airlines. Here are all the current full members:

Airline NameJoining Date
Aegean Airlines30 June 2010
Air Canada14 May 1997
Air China12 December 2007
Air India3 July 2014
Air New Zealand3 May 1999
All Nippon Airways (ANA)15 October 1999
Asiana Airlines1 March 2003
Austrian Airlines26 March 2000
Avianca21 June 2012
Brussels Airlines9 December 2009
Copa Airlines21 June 2012
Croatia Airlines18 November 2004
Egyptair11 July 2008
Ethiopian Airlines13 December 2011
EVA Air18 June 2013
LOT Polish Airlines26 October 2003
Lufthansa14 May 1997
Scandinavian Airlines14 May 1997
Shenzhen Airlines29 November 2012
Singapore Airlines1 April 2000
South African Airways10 April 2006
Swiss International Air Lines1 April 2006
TAP Air Portugal14 March 2005
Thai Airways14 May 1997
Turkish Airlines1 April 2008
United Airlines14 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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.