Star Alliance is already the largest of the global airline alliances but they appear to be showing no signs of slowing their growth. At their regular CEO summit this week, held in Queenstown, New Zealand, Virgin Blue CEO John Borghetti was in attendance. Only Qantas, a member of OneWorld, is in an alliance currently in Australia so there is room for either Star Alliance or SkyTeam to make a move with Virgin Blue.
Virgin Blue and Air New Zealand have tried to link up already once. Their application to cooperate on trans-Tasman service was rejected by Australian competition authorities in September. Still, the carriers are looking to move forward with a partnership that could benefit both sides as much as possible.
An additional quirk that might come into play with the possible Star Alliance move is that Virgin Blue has some existing partners that could confuse the situation. Their loyalty scheme, Velocity Rewards, is shared with long haul carrier V Australia. V Australia currently is partnered with Delta, a SkyTeam member. Having one half of the Velocity Rewards program working in Star Alliance and the other in SkyTeam would be quite unusual, though it is possible.
If Virgin Blue – and V Australia along with it – were to leave Delta it would be quite a blow to the SkyMiles program. Currently the V Australia option is one of the best redemption opportunities that SkyMiles has.
- Growing alliances for OneWorld, JetBlue
- SkyTeam heading south – Aerolineas Argentinas to join
- Major OneWorld alliance upgrades
- SkyTeam celebrates 10 years
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Selfishly, I hope Virgin Blue joins Star. I travel to Australia a lot and have always been upset since Ansett went under in 2002 that there hasn’t been an adequate replacement. At one time, I could still earn on Virgin Blue on limited routes, but that ability went away a year or so ago, I think.
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