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The SkyTeam airline
alliance this week said it plans to continue growing its portfolio of
Asia-based members, building on the recent addition of Vietnam Airlines, a new
commitment from China Eastern and SkyTeam stalwarts China Southern and Korean
SkyTeam chairman Leo van
Wijk this week said the addition of Vietnam Airlines, which officially joined the
alliance earlier this month, and China Eastern, which this week signed a commitment
that expands on a preliminary agreement from April, would add 10 percent to SkyTeam's
daily departures on the continent. "We intend to sign more Asian carriers
to the group," van Wijk said. SkyTeam managing
director Marie-Joseph Malé added that the aim is to make
SkyTeam "the alliance for Asia."
Van Wijk said Southeast
Asian carriers are particularly attractive to SkyTeam, though he would not name
names of any potential new members this week during an event in New York celebrating
the alliance's 10th anniversary.
One Asian country,
however, appears to be tapped out for SkyTeam growth: "With China Eastern
and China Southern, we have a very strong position for SkyTeam in the Chinese
market," van Wijk said, later adding that China "needs no further
One Asian country appears
out of play for SkyTeam, however, as an effort earlier this year to coax Japan
Airlines away from Oneworld and into a deeper partnership with Delta Air Lines
and its SkyTeam members ultimately failed. Japan's number-two airline, All
Nippon, remains a member of Star Alliance and has made moves to deepen its
relationship with Star partners through a transpacific joint venture request.
While Asia remains a
focus for growth, SkyTeam also acknowledged what van Wijk called other
"white spots" on the map, and is eying new partners in such growth
markets as Latin America, India and Africa. "We are actively looking to
fill these gaps," van Wijk said.