One of the most well known types of alliances for people may very well be the airline alliance. Skyteam, Oneworld, Star alliance, all names that will ring a bell for anyone who has set foot on board a plane more than once. The past months especially Skyteam and Oneworld entered the news while fighting to get/keep Japanese Airlines on board. Japanese Airlines was in bad weather and entered into bankruptcy protection measures in January. In the mean time Skyteam was making proposals to Japanese Airlines to leave the Oneworld alliance and enter the Skyteam alliance. A lot has been written about it on the Internet the past half year. Google for “jal oneworld skyteam” and it will deliver you 1.730.000 hits.
For an airliner switching an alliance is not an easy task. Benefits of the switch must be very clear and in Japanese airline’s case will have been financially driven. These alliances in many cases bring benefits to the carriers not by the frequent flyer programs that we will see as travelers. For the airline industry the benefits are in sharing flights, systems, crew, luggage handling and so on. Switching an alliance means huge disentangling efforts for all parties involved and reengaging efforts into the new alliance. Clearly also finances were among the arguments for Japanese airlines to choose in favor of the existing alliance with American Airlines, together with private equity firm TPG, investing USD 1.4 billion in Japanese Airlines.