Delta Air Lines is largest of SkyTeam’s 20 members with 25% of seats; Guangzhou joins Atlanta and Paris CDG in top three hubs

Delta Air Lines is largest of SkyTeam’s 20 members

20 members, 20 different uniforms. SkyTeam is the chosen alliance for (in order of size) Delta Air Lines, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Air France, Aeroflot, Saudi Arabian Airlines, KLM, Korean Air, Xiamen Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Alitalia, Aeromexico, Vietnam Airlines, China Airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, Middle East Airlines, Czech Airlines and TAROM. Last year the alliance carried 665.4 million passengers, around 22%-23% of the world’s passengers.

SkyTeam is the last of the world’s three global alliances to be analysed by Founded on 22 June 2000, the four original members of SkyTeam were Aeromexico, Air France, Delta Air Lines and Korean Air. The following April the alliance welcomed its fifth member – Czech Airlines – while Alitalia joined as the sixth member a few months after that. Overall in 2016 SkyTeam is the alliance of choice for 20 of the world’s leading airlines. The alliance last year welcomed 665.4 million passengers on a network of over 1,000 airports in 177 countries featuring more than 3,700 routes. Last year around 3.5 billion people flew around the world according to IATA, meaning that around 19% of passengers in 2015 would have flown on a SkyTeam member aircraft.

Delta Air Lines largest carrier with quarter of capacity

Of the 20 airlines that are members of SkyTeam, the largest is Delta, with the US carrier occupying just over 25% of the alliance’s seat capacity. The carrier itself has welcomed a 3.7% rise in seat availability during the past 12 months, which translates to nearly 679,000 additional one-way seats. The second largest airline in the alliance is China Southern Airlines. However to show the dominant lead that Delta has, China Southern’s operation only measures up to 53% of the US airline’s capacity.


Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for October 2016 and October 2015.

Vietnam Airlines leads growth

Vietnam Airlines is the 13th largest member of SkyTeam, with it responsible for 2.9% of the alliance’s capacity. The carrier is also leading the charge within the SkyTeam family when it comes to growth, with its seat offering this October increasing by 18% when compared to the same month in 2015. This represents a net increase for the airline in seats of nearly 330,000. Along with Vietnam Airlines, the only other carrier within SkyTeam to register double-digit growth during the past year is Xiamen Airlines (ninth largest airline in SkyTeam), with its seat availability up by nearly 13%, representing a net increase of 330,000 seats. In relation to loss of seats, Air France has fared worst, with it losing just over 200,000 during the past year according to OAG schedules data.

Along with Vietnam Airlines, this is how the remaining members of SkyTeam have grown over the past 12 months: China Airlines (14th; 1.2% growth in seat capacity); Aerolineas Argentinas (15th; 2.1%); Air Europa (16th; 5.5%); Kenya Airways (17th; -4.7%); Middle East Airlines (18th; -3.7%); Czech Airlines (19th; 5.3%); and TAROM (20th; -4.5%). Overall the collective capacity of all 20 members in Star Alliance has risen by 4.5% during the past 12 months, with the alliance offering nearly 7.5 million monthly one-way seats this October.

World’s largest airport is SkyTeam’s biggest hub; Guangzhou climbs to third  

After registering a 3.2% growth in seat capacity from SkyTeam carriers, Atlanta – the world’s largest airport – remains the number one hub for the alliance. Atlanta occupies 5.5% of the alliance’s monthly departing seat capacity. The second largest hub for SkyTeam is Paris CDG (highlighted in light green). However, it is the only airport within the alliance’s top 12 to register a reduction in capacity, with its seat offering down 0.6%. This factor is not helped by the drop in seats by France’s national flag carrier.

The biggest development within the alliance’s top 12 airports is the movement of Guangzhou, with it jumping above Amsterdam to take third place this year. This is as a result of the China Southern hub welcoming an 11% increase in SkyTeam seats. Amsterdam, which also grew during the past year, is home to 26,000 fewer seats then Guangzhou, with the Chinese airport welcoming 190,000 more seats this October than in the same month of 2015. If Guangzhou continues to grow at its current rate, it will pass Paris CDG to claim the title of second largest SkyTeam airport in early 2018. That is based on the trend for Paris CDG also continuing at its current rate.


Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for October 2016 and October 2015.

In relation to SkyTeam’s top 50 airports, the only other airport outside of the top 12 to welcome a six-digit increase in seats (Guangzhou and Moscow Sheremetyevo have welcomed 100,000+ additional seats during the past year) is Ho Chi Minh City (24th largest SkyTeam operation), with the Vietnamese city welcoming over 116,000 additional SkyTeam seats this October. Of the alliance’s top 50 airports, only 10 have showcased capacity declines when referring to OAG schedules. They are: Paris CDG (second; -0.6%); Shanghai Hongqiao (16th; -2.9%); Jeddah (17th; -1.6%); New York LaGuardia (28th; -2.1%); Changsha (17th; -0.6%); Tokyo Narita (44th; -4.3%); Hong Kong (46th; -4.8%); Milan Linate (47th; -0.1%); and St. Petersburg (50th; -3.3%). According to OAG schedules, SkyTeam carriers serve a total of 1,055 airports this October.

Paris CDG – Shanghai Pudong tops ASKs

When looking at the alliance’s top 12 routes in relation to ASKs, the number one airport pairing is Paris CDG to Shanghai Pudong, with the city pair welcoming just under 349 million monthly one-way ASKs. The two SkyTeam members that operate this route are Air France (5,164 weekly one-way seats) and China Eastern (3,204). The third carrier that links the two airports is Air China (948) of Star Alliance. SkyTeam’s ASKs on the route have remained constant during the past 12 months.

Chart: SkyTeam's top 12 routes in relation to ASKs Monthly one-way ASKs for October 2016

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for October 2016.

Of SkyTeam’s top 12 routes in relation to ASKs, one (highlighted in light green) is a domestic connection, the city paring of Beijing and Guangzhou. The remaining 11 routes within the top 12 are all long-haul sectors. We do not have to go far outside of the top 12 to discover the alliance’s next domestic connection. In 13th is the Vietnamese city airport paring of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi (225 million monthly one-way ASKs). The next domestic connection after that is 19th-placed Los Angeles to New York JFK (204 million).


Jos Nijhuis, CEO, Schiphol Group; Perry Cantarutti, CEO, SkyTeam; Wu Ken, Ambassador of China in the Netherlands; Xu Zhao, CFO, China Eastern Airlines; Jos Vranken, GM NBTC Holland Marketing; and Dong Bo, CMO, China Eastern Airlines, cut the ribbon in Amsterdam on 26 June to mark the opening of China Eastern’s flights between the two cities. During the past 12 months, China Eastern’s seat capacity has risen by 5.2%, while Amsterdam has seen its SkyTeam seat offering increase by 4.1%.

Domestic domination

Looking at SkyTeam’s top 12 routes in relation to seat capacity, one thing that is evident is that all of them are domestic connections, with eight of them in Asia, three in Europe and only one in the US. When analysing SkyTeam’s routes in relation to seats, the first non-domestic connection is between Taipei Taoyuan and Hong Kong (15th largest route in relation to seat capacity).


Source: OAG Schedules Analyser data for October 2016.

When we looked at Star Alliance recently, it was managing to maintain an average of 31% market share in its top 12 markets, while last week oneworld was reporting a share of 33%. SkyTeam, looking at OAG schedules, is faring much better than its alliance rivals, with its carriers managing a market share average of 63%. The only route that has made it into the top 12 routes in relation to ASKs and seats is the connection between Beijing and Guangzhou.


Could this be a route that will help Guangzhou grow to become larger than Paris CDG in the next few years? China Southern will launch flights between the Chinese city, which has welcomed an 11% rise in SkyTeam seat capacity during the past 12 months, and Adelaide in December. If Guangzhou continues to grow at its current rate, it will pass Paris CDG to become SkyTeam’s second largest airport in some time in early 2018. It is also worth noting that these two cities will be the hosts for World Routes in 2018 (Guangzhou) and 2019 (Adelaide).



Comments are closed