Saudia goes global with SkyTeam membership

Saudia goes global with
SkyTeam membership
Updated 29 May 2012

Saudia goes global with SkyTeam membership

Saudia goes global with
SkyTeam membership

Saudi Arabian Airlines will join the SkyTeam alliance on Tuesday, heralding a new era in its 70-year history.
Director General Khaled Al-Molhem will sign the landmark agreement with SkyTeam Chairman Leo van Wijk and top executives of member airlines in the presence of Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), and Saudia’s board of directors.
By signing this historic agreement, Saudia becomes the 16th member of SkyTeam and the first airline in the Middle East to join the global alliance, offering its passengers access to 14,700 daily flights being operated by the alliance’s member airlines to 958 destinations in 173 countries. “Whether making a personal journey or doing global business, you’ll enjoy more flexibility, convenience and choices along your journey with SkyTeam,” said a SkyTeam official. There are 470 SkyTeam lounges at airports worldwide to provide special services to its customers.
Saudia chief Al-Molhem highlighted the efforts made by his airline to become a SkyTeam member. Saudia modernized its technical infrastructure, applied modern passenger management systems, and signed deals to purchase 90 new Airbus and Boeing aircraft. “We have already received 54 new aircraft, which are currently operating on domestic and international routes,” he pointed out.
“SkyTeam strives to provide its customers with seamless connections and a hassle-free travel experience before, during, between, and after their flights,” said Abdullah Al-Ajhar, Saudia’s vice president for public relations. He said SkyTeam membership would bring about unprecedented improvement in the airline’s services.
SkyTeam was established in June 2000 with the participation of four airlines: Aeromexico, Delta Air Lines, Air France and Korean Air. Last year its membership increased to 15. They are: Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, TAROM, and Vietnam Airlines.
The new landmark agreement comes after Saudia signed an initial accord with the alliance on Jan 10, 2011. The move will interface with Saudi Arabian Airlines' major hubs of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, enabling travelers to connect with new destinations in the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent and North Africa. SkyTeam partners in return will have access to new customers from the region, as Saudia offers direct flights to Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. Customers can transfer at SkyTeam hubs such as Paris, Rome, Nairobi and New York en route to destinations in Europe, Africa and North and South America.
Speaking about major achievements of SkyTeam during the past 10 years, its Chairman Van Wijk said the alliance was focusing on expanding its global network to provide better connectivity. "We have now major carriers of US and Europe in our team. The agreement with Saudia will enhance our reach to North Africa, the Gulf and India," he said.
He said the alliance is now trying to fill the white spots in its global map. He said the joining of new members such as China Eastern, China Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Japan Airlines and Garuda would strengthen the alliance's global position. There are three alliances that account for 70 percent of global travel business with SkyTeam taking a market share of 24 percent, the chairman said.
To become a member of SkyTeam, a potential airline has to meet a stringent set of requirements prior to receiving an invitation for membership. These include customer service standards, safety levels and technology adaptability. As a result of implementing these standards, carriers are equipped to offer high-quality service, consistent with standards of other SkyTeam member airlines, to its passengers as well as delivery of specific alliance products and benefits.
After joining the alliance, an airline can increase its network offerings through alliance partnerships, such as code-share agreements and the ability to offer additional destinations service by other SkyTeam members. In return, as a result of new destinations served and new routes offered, the market position of the individual carrier increases. A key element of the SkyTeam global network is the hub-and-spoke system, which provides unparalleled connectivity and an easy way for customers to travel using members of the same alliance from their departure city to any location in the world.