Star Alliance

3 Airline Alliances: An Overview of Benefits and Drawbacks

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There are 3 airline alliances that will be familiar to most experienced air travellers. They have evolved in answer to the complexity of the airline network within the aviation industry. Airlines have sought to simplify their operations and expand their reach is through airline alliances and in this article, we’ll explore the basics of airline alliances, the major players, and the pros and cons of these arrangements.

What is an airline alliance?

An airline alliance is a partnership between two or more airlines that allows them to coordinate their operations, share resources, and offer customers a wider range of destinations and services. The ultimate goal of an airline alliance is to increase revenue and efficiency for its members.

How do airline alliances work?

Airline alliances work by allowing member airlines to coordinate their schedules, pricing, and routes. For example, if an airline in the alliance has a flight to a particular destination that another airline does not, the two airlines may agree to code-share that flight. This means that passengers can book a ticket with one airline, but travel on a flight operated by another airline in the alliance.

What are the biggest 3 airline alliances?

There are three major airline alliances: Star Alliance, Oneworld, and SkyTeam. These alliances collectively represent nearly 60 airlines from around the world, and account for a significant portion of the global air travel market.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the three major airline alliances:

Star Alliance

Star Alliance was the first global airline alliance, founded in 1997. It currently has 26 member airlines from around the world, including United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada, and ANA. The alliance’s headquarters are located in Frankfurt, Germany.


Oneworld is the second-largest global airline alliance, founded in 1999. It currently has 14 member airlines, including American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Qantas. The alliance’s headquarters are located in New York City.


SkyTeam is the youngest of the three major global airline alliances, founded in 2000. It currently has 19 member airlines, including Delta Air Lines, Air France, KLM, and Korean Air. The alliance’s headquarters are located in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Each of these alliances has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, and member airlines may choose to join one alliance over another based on a variety of factors, such as network coverage, membership fees, and strategic partnerships.

3 Airline Alliances
Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

What is the benefit of airline alliances?

The main benefit of airline alliances is the ability to offer customers a wider range of destinations and services. By coordinating their schedules and routes, member airlines can offer more flights to more destinations, which can be especially valuable for business travelers who need to travel to multiple cities.

Another benefit is that airline alliances allow member airlines to share resources, such as airport lounges, frequent flyer programs, and maintenance facilities. This can help airlines reduce costs and improve efficiency.

What is the disadvantage of airline alliance?

One of the main disadvantages of airline alliances is the potential for reduced competition, which can lead to higher prices for customers. Additionally, airline alliances can be complex and difficult to navigate, which can lead to confusion for customers.

Direct flights from London

DestinationDeparture atReturn atAirlineFind tickets
Malaga18 April 202325 April 2023RyanairTickets from GBP 47
Alicante17 April 202324 April 2023RyanairTickets from GBP 48
Amsterdam10 May 202312 May 2023EasyjetTickets from GBP 87
Athens12 April 202320 April 2023Sky ExpressTickets from GBP 124
Antalya17 April 202326 April 2023Wizz AirTickets from GBP 81
Barcelona19 April 202326 April 2023RyanairTickets from GBP 49
Belgrade3 May 20235 May 2023Wizz AirTickets from GBP 86
Berlin19 April 202319 April 2023RyanairTickets from GBP 51
Belfast21 April 202323 April 2023Skyview Airways Company Limiteddba SkyviewTickets from GBP 55
Bilbao25 March 202326 March 2023VuelingTickets from GBP 71

Is EasyJet part of an alliance?

EasyJet is not currently part of an airline alliance, but the airline has announced plans to partner with other airlines on a limited basis in the future.

Is Ryanair part of an alliance?

Ryanair is not currently part of any of the three major airline alliances, Star Alliance, Oneworld, or SkyTeam. The airline has historically operated independently and pursued a low-cost business model. However, Ryanair has engaged in limited partnerships and code-sharing agreements with other airlines in the past. For example, the airline has a partnership with Air Europa that allows passengers to connect between flights and purchase tickets for both airlines through a single booking.

Is British Airways part of an alliance?

British Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance.

Is Emirates part of an alliance?

Emirates is not currently part of an airline alliance, but the airline has a number of code-sharing agreements with other airlines.

Is Virgin part of an alliance?

Virgin is a member of the Delta-led SkyTeam alliance.

Why would an airline choose not to join any airline alliances?

There are several reasons why some airlines may choose not to join any alliances. One reason is that alliances require a significant investment of time and resources to establish and maintain. For some airlines, the costs of joining an alliance may not outweigh the potential benefits, particularly if the airline already has a strong brand and network.

Another reason is that alliances can limit an airline’s flexibility and control over its operations. By joining an alliance, airlines must adhere to certain standards and rules, which may not align with the airline’s goals or values. Additionally, joining an alliance may limit an airline’s ability to pursue partnerships and agreements with other airlines outside of the alliance.

Furthermore, some airlines may simply prefer to operate independently and maintain control over their business operations. For example, low-cost carriers like Ryanair and Southwest Airlines have chosen not to join any alliances, as their business models rely on maintaining low costs and offering a unique customer experience.

So, while airline alliances can offer many benefits to airlines and customers alike, some airlines may choose not to join an alliance due to the costs, loss of control, or other strategic considerations. Ultimately, each airline must carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of joining an alliance and make a decision that best aligns with its business goals and values.


In conclusion, airline alliances have become a key component of the global aviation industry, allowing airlines to expand their reach and offer customers more choices and benefits. However, the benefits and drawbacks of these alliances must be carefully considered by both airlines and customers in order to ensure that they are making the best decisions for their businesses and travel needs. Whether you’re a frequent business traveler or a leisure traveler planning your next vacation, understanding the role of airline alliances can help you make more informed decisions about your air travel.

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