Looking back to where it all started

By Michael Wisbrun, SkyTeam Managing Director

Airline alliances were born from the desire of multiple airlines with similar outlooks to unite their networks across the globe and offer their customers more choices and benefits. History leads to milestones, and as SkyTeam celebrates its 15th anniversary, we would like to share with you a little bit about our history.

KLM and Northwest cooperationAs we begin the countdown to June 22nd, marking 15 years of SkyTeam’s alliance operations, it is natural for me to reflect on our roots and what we have achieved so far. The objective for any airline wishing to offer a global network is to expand their geographic scope while avoiding prohibitive capital investment. Alliances offered and continue to offer this huge opportunity, enabling airlines to serve the global market together and provide customers with more connections.

SkyTeam’s history is unique. It can be traced to long before the alliance was established in an unexpected way by two airlines creating their own alliance 11 years before SkyTeam was founded, two airlines that would not even become members of SkyTeam until four years after it was established. These two airlines, Northwest Airlines (now merged with Delta Airlines), and KLM (now part of Air France-KLM), came together in 1989 to begin establishing what would become the most integrated airline agreement of its time.

Launch of SkyTeam by founding membersNow, fast forward to June 22nd 2000, when SkyTeam was formed in New York City, bringing together Air France, Korean Air, Aeroméxico and Delta Air Lines. On this date, these four airlines began offering their passengers an enhanced level of service with 6,402 flights per day to 451 destinations in 98 countries. Less than four months later, SkyTeam pushed the boundaries of what an alliance offered its customers with the establishment of SkyTeam Cargo.

We have been busy since June 2000; in 15 years we have grown and deepened cooperation between our members, covering 90% of the most important traffic flows. SkyTeam has members in the most relevant existing and emerging markets. We are the leading alliance in Greater China with 4 members in the region. Last year, our members recorded 27% more cooperation through codeshares. More than 26 million passengers used at least two or more SkyTeam carriers to complete their journeys.

Fifteen years after we started, tomorrow's ambition remains the same... Caring more about you

SkyTeam caring more about youOur focus remains on the customer. While we have achieved a relevant global foothold, we do not necessarily aim to be the biggest alliance. Bigger is not always better. SkyTeam is focused on complementary airlines spanning the globe to provide travelers with an efficient and consistent experience. History allows SkyTeam to reflect on its roots, and allows you, who make everything we do possible, to know that we will never rest on our laurels. It's what led us to introduce SkyPriority, a global standard for all members, helping top customers travel faster through the airport, from check-in, to security, boarding and bag collection.

From smooth airline-to-airline transfers, outstanding integrated frequent flyer benefits, 629 lounges making your experience as comfortable as possible, and even seamless cargo services, SkyTeam is proud of our past. We’re proud of where we are today, but constantly looking towards the future. 

Upcoming blog posts will share more details on our initiatives to improve YOUR travel experience by enhancing seamlessness and creating efficiencies between member airlines. Join us as we celebrate our 15th anniversary. Get to know us. Share your history with us and follow us as we open up our doors to share our stories with you throughout 2015.

#SkyTeam15 is a wonderful year