Jet Airways in talks with Air France-KLM, Delta, and Alitalia. To finally join SkyTeam?

Both Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that India’s largest carrier Jet Airways is in talks with Air France-KLM, Alitalia and Delta Air Lines Inc. about joining the SkyTeam alliance.

Jet has long practised a policy of bi-lateral and code-share agreements and officially, its management has steadfastly refuted any speculation of carrier joining an alliance, but with Air India finally clearing its hurdles to enter the Star Alliance, and Kingfisher Airlines making progress as a member-elect of oneworld, Jet may not be able resist any longer. A source at Jet Airways said joining an alliance was now “inevitable”.

Skyteam will be a good fit for Jet Airways. The Mumbai based carrier already flies to New York JFK, and Milan, major hubs for existing SkyTeam members Delta and Alitalia, in addition to Newark and twice daily to London Heathrow.

Jet Airways international expansion fitting with SkyTeam.

How Jet’s international expansion fits with SkyTeam. Click on image for a larger view.

With Alitalia, Jet has also forged code-share agreements for onward connections to Europe. Its 2011 expansion includes Seoul Incheon, Amsterdam, and Rome again hubs for Korean Air Lines, KLM, and Alitalia.

While it has been denied permission, for now, by the Indian government to fly to Paris, the hub for Air France, industry insiders know that Jet will obtain the Paris permission soon enough.

Unlike Kingfisher which is a weak entrant and is being forced to compromise in return for entry in to oneworld, Jet will be in a strong negotiating position with SkyTeam. Jet offers a formidable pan-India network in both the full service and low cost segments, and more importantly, Jet fills a crucial void current missing in the Skyteam network, with its good network from the middle east to south-east Asia, which will also connect to existing SkyTeam members like China Southern and Vietnam Airlines and with Garuda Indonesia when it joins the alliance.

A possible demonstration of this strong position can be obtain from Dutch news site luchtvaartnieuws, which is reporting that Jet will move its Brussels hub to Amsterdam and take over one India USA route from KLM.

I have been long espousing that Jet should join SkyTeam sooner rather than later. Do you agree or disagree with my views? Please post a comment. Let’s have a discussion.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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