A senior official of Taiwan's biggest carrier China Airlines yesterday confirmed that they will be joining the SkyTeam alliance led by Air France-KLM Group and Delta Air Lines next week, according to local media reports.
CAL President Sun Huang-hsiang said the agreement will be officially announced next Tuesday by Taipei-based China Airlines in a signing ceremony, making CAL the first airline in Taiwan to join the alliance, reports said. Sun's comment came after a Bloomberg report yesterday quoted unidentified sources in releasing the news that CAL has agreed to join SkyTeam.
The expansion reinforces SkyTeam in East Asia, where it recruited Vietnam Airlines in June. Korean Air Lines is a founding member, and China Eastern Airlines agreed in April to become the alliance's second major Chinese carrier along with China Southern Airlines. OneWorld, a rival airline grouping, still lacks a mainland Chinese partner for British Airways and AMR's American Airlines, while Deutsche Lufthansa's Star Alliance has one, Air China.
"In quite a short time frame, SkyTeam has built up a strong offering in that zone, and this clearly extends it," said Yan Derocles, a Paris-based analyst with Oddo Securities.
China Airlines climbed 2.4 percent to close at NT$19.25 in Taipei trading as of 1:30 p.m. local time. The benchmark Taiex index rose 0.7 percent.
European airlines account for most of the air traffic to and from the region, and Asian governments including China want to redress the balance in favor of their own carriers, Derocles said in a phone interview.
SkyTeam's eastward expansion "is important for Air France because it enables them to get back part of the benefit from that readjustment," he said.