In January, SkyTeam announced the introduction of SkyPriority, a series of distinctively branded priority airport services offered to Elite Plus, First and Business Class customers. SkyPriority has been developed to ensure a common and consistent service standard for priority airport services across the alliance. The SkyPriority program started on March 1, 2012 when it was introduced for the first time at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport. This was followed shortly thereafter by SkyTeam hubs such as Amsterdam, Atlanta, Beijing, Guangzhou, Nairobi, Paris, Rome and Seoul among many others. The introduction will gradually continue and is scheduled to reach over 1,000 airports in 2013.
In March, SkyTeam launched a fully refreshed version of Skyteam.biz, its dedicated website for the travel industry. The site was upgraded to have a similar look and feel to SkyTeam.com, and is packed with information and tools designed with the travel professional in mind.
In May, SkyTeam upgraded its online Round the World Planner to offer a number of new features designed to make booking a SkyTeam Round the World flight itinerary even easier.Customers planning their worldwide trips benefit from enhancements such as requesting a quote by sending their itinerary to a dedicated reservations team at their preferred SkyTeam airline for a quote and the option to book.
In May, Saudia joined SkyTeam as the 16th member of the alliance. The flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, Saudia became SkyTeam’s first member airline from the Middle East and gives the alliance a strong foothold in this important economic region.
In June, SkyTeam announced several priority initiatives focusing on three clear priority areas: enrich the customer proposition, strengthen the global network and achieve synergies. One of the initiatives is SkyTransfer, improving further on seamless, straightforward transfers of passengers and their baggage from one member airline to another. Another initiative to improve the airport experience and achieve synergies is SkyPort, increasing the number of shared locations worldwide. SkyTeam plans to open two new SkyTeam Lounges, in Beijing and Istanbul.
In June, Middle East Airlines – Air Liban (MEA) joined SkyTeam as the 17th member. MEA’s membership of SkyTeam makes it easier for customers to travel to and from Lebanon, whether it’s for business or leisure. This especially benefits the large Lebanese communities living in the US, Canada and Brazil, who will be able to connect via the major hubs Paris CDG and Rome.
In August, SkyTeam welcomed Aerolíneas Argentinas as its 18th member. The national airline of Argentina – South America’s second largest economy - Aerolíneas Argentinas became SkyTeam’s first South American member. The airline closes a gap in the network while opening up extensive business and exciting leisure travel opportunities for global customers flying throughout the Southern Hemisphere.
In November, Xiamen Air joined SkyTeam as the 19th member. Based in Xiamen, a coastal city in East China's Fujian province, Xiamen Airlines is China’s fifth largest airline and operates a network of domestic and regional services throughout China and Asia, predominantly from the hub airports of Xiamen, Fuzhou and Hangzhou. Fujian is one of the more prosperous provinces in China with diverse industries such as clothing, tea production and electronics. Tourism has seen very strong growth and is one of the highlights in the region’s economy.