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Six airlines from three different alliances and across three different continents joined forces this week. and announced three new or enhanced partnerships.

Lufthansa Group and Cathay Pacific sign codeshare agreement

Lufthansa Cathay

Lufthansa, a founding member of the Star Alliance, and Cathay Pacific, a member of Oneworld, announced on Monday March 27 that they have signed a code-sharing agreement. Under the code-sharing deal,

  • Lufthansa and its Swiss and Austrian Airlines units will place their code on Cathay Pacific flights from Hong Kong to Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns and Auckland.
  • Cathay passengers will be able to buy tickets for Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian flights from Frankfurt, Duesseldorf and Zurich to 14 destinations in Europe:
    • Lufthansa: Between Frankfurt and Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Dresden, Hannover, Hamburg, Munich, Nuremberg, Oslo and Stuttgart.
    • Swiss: Between Zurich and Berlin, Brussels, Florence, Geneva, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Venice.
    • Austrian Airlines: Between Vienna and Frankfurt, Zurich and Düsseldorf.

Members of both airlines will be able to earn or redeem frequent flyer miles when flying the above codeshare routes. Tickets for the new codeshare destinations will be available for sale on April 5, 2017 for travel starting April 26, 2017.

Lufthansa uses joint ventures in Asia, with All Nippon Airways (ANA), Singapore Airways and Air China to boost its Asia network, but a codeshare deal is not as in-depth as those partnerships.  This deal is the first codeshare agreement for Lufthansa with an airline that is part of a rival alliance.

American Airlines buys $200 million stake in China Southern


On Tuesday March 28, American Airlines announced that it has agreed to pay $200 million stake in the Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines. The investment represents approximately a 2.78% stake in China’s biggest state-owned carrier. In a bid to capture a bigger share of China’s fast growing travel market, American is finally playing catchup in China with its rivals Delta and United. Delta invested $450 million in China Eastern Airlines in 2015, while United has close ties with Air China.

China Southern currently operates nonstop service from Guangzhou to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York-JFK, while American Airlines flies to Beijing and Shanghai from the U.S. The two carriers are expected to begin codeshare and interline agreements later this year. China Southern customers will gain access to almost 80 destinations in North and South America, and American customers will gain access to nearly 40 destinations beyond Beijing and more than 30 destinations beyond Shanghai..Passengers traveling on the expected codeshare routes will be able to book travel on a single ticket, through-check luggage, earn and redeem AAdvantage Miles.

China Southern is a member of Delta’s SkyTeam, while American is a member of Oneworld alliance, which doesn’t include a mainland Chinese carrier at the moment. It will be interesting to see if American’s equity investment in China Southern will cause a reshuffle of the current global airline alliances.

Delta and Korean Air to form transpacific joint venture


On Wednesday March 29, the two founding members of SkyTeam announced that they have reached an agreement to form a transpacific joint venture. According to the airlines, highlights of the agreement include:

  • The intent to create a fully integrated trans-Pacific joint venture with both airlines sharing the costs and revenues on flights and coordinating schedules for seamless, convenient connections.
  • A combined network serving more than 290 destinations in the Americas and more than 80 in Asia, providing customers of both airlines with more travel choices than ever before.
  • Enhanced frequent flyer benefits, providing customers of both airlines the ability to earn and redeem miles on Delta’s Sky Miles and Korean Air’s SKYPASS programs.

The joint venture agreement is subject to regulatory approvals and signing of definitive contracts. The two airlines will be launching three nonstop services between the U.S. and Seoul this summer:

  • New nonstop services by Delta between Atlanta and Seoul, complementing Korean Air’s existing service;
  • 2nd flight between San Francisco and Seoul by Korean Air, and
  • 3rd flight between Los Angeles and Seoul by Korean Air.

This joint venture should be good news for Delta Skymile members. Currently Skymile members do not earn any elite qualifying miles or dollars when flying Korean Air marketed flights. I imagine that would change very soon.

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