In January, Saudia, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, signed an agreement to join SkyTeam in 2012. The airline will be SkyTeam’s first member from the Middle East, adding 35 new destinations to the alliance network. Saudia complements the SkyTeam network by offering customers access to destinations across the Middle East not currently served by SkyTeam members. Through Saudi Arabia’s major hub of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, travelers can connect to new destinations on the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and Northern Africa, including 26 domestic destinations and international routes such as Alexandria, Aden and Islamabad. SkyTeam members will have access to new potential customers from the region as Saudia offers direct flights to Europe, Asia, Africa and the USA. Customers can transfer to SkyTeam partner flights via hubs such as Paris, Rome, Nairobi and New York. SkyTeam partner China Southern also offers regular connections to Asia from Jeddah.
In February, Middle East Airlines – Air Liban (MEA), the flag carrier of Lebanon signed an agreement to join SkyTeam in 2012. MEA will be the alliance's second member from the Middle East, a strategic growth market for SkyTeam.
SkyTeam is actively working to strengthen its presence in the Middle East, one of the world's most important and rapidly growing economic regions. The addition of MEA to the alliance network will enable SkyTeam to compete more efficiently, not only within the Middle East, but also to and from Western Africa. SkyTeam in return offers MEA a complementary global network. MEA customers will be able to connect to the world through traffic flows from the SkyTeam hubs in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
In April, SkyTeam appointed Michael Wisbrun as its new Managing Director, effective June 1st. As head of the management team, based in the central office in Amsterdam, Michael Wisbrun is responsible for implementing the future strategic plan as set forth by the SkyTeam Governing Board. Among the priorities outlined in the strategic plan are continued efforts to expand the SkyTeam network and enrich the alliance proposition with new customer-centered products and services.
Alongside Michael Wisbrun's appointment, SkyTeam strengthened its leadership team by appointing Mr. Su Liang as deputy Managing Director. Su Liang is a senior executive from China Southern. His broad perspective on the emerging Asia Pacific markets will further reaffirm SkyTeam's growing presence in the region and help in solidifying SkyTeam's #1 position in the greater China region.
In June, China Eastern officially joined SkyTeam. In welcoming the Shanghai-based airline, SkyTeam cements its position as the region’s leading airline alliance, offering 10% more daily departures to and from the Greater China region. China Eastern is the 14th airline to join the alliance, which is expected to grow to 19 members by 2012.
China Eastern will be included in all SkyTeam global deals offered to clients, benefiting corporate customers and offering increased opportunities for trade and commerce between this region and the rest of the world.
In September, SkyTeam members welcomed China Airlines, the flag carrier of Taiwan, to the alliance. Headquartered in Taipei, China Airlines is the largest airline of Taiwan, home to one of the world’s most dynamic technology-driven economies that also possesses abundant tourism opportunities and booming aviation industry prospects.
SkyTeam will greatly benefit from expanding its network in the region. The China Airlines extensive route network covers Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania, and will help customers connect to flights of SkyTeam partners worldwide. China Airlines also offers an extensive cross-strait operation, linking Taiwan to multiple major destinations in China. Also, Taipei will serve as an alternative Asian hub with services to and from key business destinations in the region.