There is no stopping SkyTeam – they seem intent on recruiting every airline with a poor safety record they can find. The news that China Airlines is to join the alliance next year means that they really only need to add Cubana and a couple of Indonesian domestic carriers and they will have a full house.
Look at any table of airline accidents over the last twenty or thirty years and you will see that Aeroflot, Korean Air, China Airlines and Air France are fairly high on the list. If you adjust the figures for the size of the airline then you can add Kenya Airways and Tarom. The only major accident-prone airline missing is Turkish Airlines which, somehow, missed the grip of SkyTeam and joined Star Alliance.
Airline accidents are so rare that statistics can be misleading but they have happened sufficiently frequently at some of these carriers to suggest that they have had a genuine problem. All of them have improved in the last few years (particularly Korean Air, China Airlines and Tarom) but it can take a long time to change the culture of a large airline. Paradoxically, Delta, one of the world’s safest airlines, and a company that commands worldwide respect for its safety culture, is also a member of SkyTeam. Delta have given considerable assistance to Korean Air and Air France in the last few years.
The Chief Executive of a mainland Chinese airline that is considering joining an alliance summed up the situation quite succinctly. “One World is an alliance of the rich airlines, Star Alliance has many members so we are looking at joining SkyTeam”
Sadly, that is the position of SkyTeam – the alliance for airlines that can’t join one of the other two.