Delta is adding a new code-share partnership for travel to India, and United’s global alliance is opening the door to new affiliations with low-cost airlines.
Effective March 27 — subject to government approvals — Delta and its SkyTeam alliance partner KLM plan to begin a new code-share partnership with Jet Airways, India’s second-largest airline.
That also the date when Jet Airways plans to drop Brussels as its main European gateway — and also to drop Brussels-Newark service, currently its only U.S. route. Instead, Jet will start flying to Amsterdam, with daily service from there to Delhi and Mumbai. Delta and KLM passengers traveling from the U.S. to Amsterdam will be able to connect there to Jet’s India flights, and to connect beyond Delhi and Mumbai to other destinations in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Delta said the code-sharing means customers will be able to travel to their final destination on a single ticket, with bags checked through to their final destination. SkyMiles members and KLM Flying Blue members will be able to earn and spend miles on code-share routes operated by Jet, Delta said. At the same time, Jet’s code will go onto 11 Delta and KLM routes from Amsterdam to the U.S. and Canada.
In a question-and-answer page that it set up to discuss the Jet partnership, Delta once again took a swipe at the Big Three Middle Eastern airlines. The main reason it is teaming up with Jet, Delta said, is that “government-subsidized Gulf carriers now dominate international travel to India, meaning U.S. airlines can no longer economically serve the Indian market directly from North America.” Ironically, one of those Gulf carriers — Etihad — owns a 24 percent stake in Jet Airways.
Meanwhile, United Airlines’ global Star Alliance will soon start to add new affiliate member carriers. Star said that it is creating a new “Connecting Partner” model in which low-cost and “hybrid” airlines around the world will be able to link to the Star Alliance network.
“We see a definite trend of convergence between the ‘traditional full service’ and ‘low-cost’ business models in the airline industry,” said Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab. “At the same time, our customers are telling us that they need access to markets where we do not yet provide ideal coverage. In many cases network carriers are not in a position to fill this gap and hence working with future Connecting Partners will allow us to provide an extended network to our travelers.”
The group said customers who transfer from a Star full-service carrier onto a Connecting Partner airline will get full alliance benefits, and elites will get the usual expected perks to the extent that they are offered by the partner carrier.
The first Connecting Partner will be South African low-cost carrier Mango, starting in the third quarter of next year, Star said. Mango operates a fleet of 10 737-800s from Johannesburg to key South African destinations and to Zanzibar.
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