Random notes from the Star Alliance/Continental press conference

The show is over now and it was, for the most part, a show.  It was fun to see representatives from all the airlines – both executives and flight attendants – up there to welcome Continental to Star Alliance and it was interesting to listen to the questions and answers.

Among the bits I found interesting, questions were posed by folks from the NJ Star Ledger, Bloomberg, and news outlets based in Guam, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Trinidad & Tobago and Switzerland.  Quite a mix there.  The questions were typical of such an event – mostly about how the change will affect and benefit whichever region was represented by the person asking the question.  The answers were fun, too.  Among them:

  • “Everyone here flies.  Sometimes in coach.  What does everyone in coach want?  An upgrade to first class.  That is what Continental just got with our move to Star Alliance.” – Jeff Smisek, CO President and COO.  That’s a pretty big swing at SkyTeam there.
  • “We don’t really compete too much with Continental in New York and what is good for Star Alliance is good for US Airways.” US CEO Doug Parker, looking very uncomfortable on stage when asked about the future that US has in the alliance.
  • The Japanese partners along with open skies coming to Japan are “robust opportunities” for Continental in the Asian markets. CO CEO Larry Kellner on potential expansion from Guam.
  • “We’ll always win in a competitive front.” Kellner again, this time when asked about the ATIs and JVs.
  • “Investment bankers are finally exercising their god-given right to fly in business class again.” Smisek, discussing booking trends and potential economic recovery.

Apparently Continental decided about 5 years ago that they made a mistake in not pursuing ATI/JV opportunities for transatlantic traffic.  For some reason, however, they were not able to rectify that and remain in SkyTeam.  It is hard to know if the other carriers (DL/NW/KL/AF) simply didn’t want to share or if it was something else.  But the good news is that they’ve addressed the issue now.

Lots more to come as news continues to roll in.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I assume that a big reason that Continental didn't join the DL/NW/AF/KL JV is that it would have been much harder to get government approval given that CO's transatlantic network from EWR overlaps so much with DL's from JFK. I think the fact that CO and DL are competing for the New York/Transatlantic market is a big reason why the government approved both the A++ and SkyTeam JVs.

  2. Perhaps it was a competition issue out of NYC, but also consider that 5 years ago Delta had very little TATL traffic from JFK. They had their handful of Eastern European routes and a few others but they didn't really start to ramp up until 2-3 years ago.

    But that's as good a reason as any. Even still, you'd think there would have been discussion about them trying and being denied if they were really interested.

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