SkyTeam officially welcomes ITA Airways as a member airline today. The Alitalia replacement joins the alliance two weeks after launching flights and a new loyalty program for customers.
Joining SkyTeam is a natural step, enabling us to continue to deliver a global network and seamless experience that customers flying to and from Italy expect. We look forward to close cooperation with our SkyTeam partners to support the start-up of our company, the Italian flag carrier. – Alfredo Altavilla, Executive Chairman of ITA Airways
While the airline and the alliance announced the partnership, an actual execution timeline remains less clear. The pair note “ITA Airways is also working closely with SkyTeam and its members to roll out SkyTeam-branded benefits that customers enjoy across the alliance, including priority airport services.” Which is to say that key membership functions – theoretically easily copied from the prior operations – are not yet in place.
Similarly, the airline will need to renegotiate its bilateral agreements for earning and redemption with other SkyTeam partners. While SkyTeam CEO Walter Cho describes today’s news as “continuity of service for the millions of customers who choose SkyTeam as their preferred alliance to Italy,” there are undoubtedly some hiccups yet to come.
And while the details of what larger alliance benefits might be available from status in the new ITA Volare program are unclear, this does suggest at least marginal value for people matching in from outside as part of the carrier’s broad launch promotion.
MileMiglia members also received a tiny bit of good news related to their accounts. Air France–KLM‘s Flying Blue and Middle East Airlines will honor status benefits from the legacy program, as well as points earn and burn. At least for now. But an airline loyalty program without an airline is, generally speaking, not likely to last long.
Whether the SkyTeam membership is a long-term commitment or not also remains to be seen. Both Delta Air Lines and Lufthansa Group have mad overtures towards a strategic investment in the recapitalized carrier. Should Lufty close the deal it would likely look to bring ITA into the Miles & More program and Star Alliance, as well as its various airline joint ventures.
- Alitalia is dead; long live Alitalia*
- Europe clears Alitalia debt from successor ITA
- Alitalia Due (a/k/a Italia Trasporto Aereo) applies for US service
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