All the alliances have been in a rush to sign up the few remaining non-aligned airlines. Star Alliance is the biggest, One World is slightly smaller but probably has a greater concentration of quality airlines and that has left SkyTeam to try to grab any airline that is left. They have become the alliance for airlines that would not get into Groucho Marx’s club.
However, even I was shocked by the news today that Garuda will join the alliance in 2012. This airline has had the doubtful reputation of having one of the worst safety records in the world and has only just been allowed to re-start flights to Europe. The combined safety record of Air France, Aeroflot, Korean Airlines, Tarom and new members China Airlines and now Garuda is not something the alliance would wish to boast about.
SkyTeam is the least developed of the alliances in terms of offering passengers “joined-up travel”. In its desire to catch up with the two big alliances it has become a resting place for some airlines with doubtful reputations for safety, customer comfort or both. Any regular traveller would want to be a member of the frequent flyer programme of both a Star Alliance carrier and a One World carrier so they can “earn and burn” throughout the network of these alliances. Unfortunately, I cannot see much point in having a SkyTeam card at all because so many of their airlines are second, or third best in their own markets.