At a meeting in Seoul, Korea, in June, the SkyTeam Governing Board officially welcomed applications for membership from Continental Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Northwest Airlines, fulfilling the original request for membership made by KLM in September 2003 when its merger with Air France was announced.
Together, the three pending members will add more than 120 new global destinations, more than 110 new lounges and more than 5,500 new daily departures. In Asia, the alliance will expand its network in the region to nine new destinations.
Each of the pending members has a rich history in the Asia region, spanning the past 76 years.
KLM is the world’s oldest international airline. In 1928, it launched what was then the longest international route, from Amsterdam to Indonesia.
Northwest began serving Shanghai in 1947, and was the earliest to fly over Alaska and the Aleutians en route. In 1947, the airline was among the first to launch key transpacific routes between the U.S. and Japan. Today, Northwest is the largest U.S. carrier between the two countries.
Continental launched Air Micronesia in 1968 to better serve the Asia Pacific region. Today, the subsidiary known as Continental Micronesia operates a Pacific hub from Guam. Additionally, Continental operates transpacific service on the Tokyo-New York, Tokyo-Houston and Hong Kong-New York routes.
SkyTeam currently includes Aeromexico, Air France, Alitalia, CSA Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Korean Air.
On a related note, SkyTeam announced it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Aeroflot. The MOU is a preliminary step in the new member process and outlines Aeroflot’s intentions to undertake exclusive discussions to become a part of SkyTeam, pending fulfillment of the alliance’s joining requirements. The MOU lays the groundwork for Aeroflot to officially join the alliance; an event to occur once the carrier fulfills SkyTeam’s requirements for quality standards, most likely to occur in 2005.