On Tuesday I was listening to an Argentinian friend moaning about the slow progress Aerolineas Argentinas was making in improving its standards. Chile has LAN, Brazil has TAM (the two of them are about to merge) and whilst these two airlines have done a great deal to change the dreadful reputation of South American airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas just goes on in the same old way, making fairly minor improvements. Like a lot of Argentinians, my friend is actually very annoyed about this. It is a matter of national pride. Argentina has come up in the world since the dark days of hyper-inflation, and it should be able to match or better anything Chile or Brazil do in aviation, but they are stuck with a lumbering giant.
Somehow, it was not a surprise to read the next morning that Aerolineas Argentinas is about to join SkyTeam – it has become the alliance for airlines that can’ t join OneWorld or Star Allaince.
This is actually getting out of hand. I pointed out a while ago that they now have a near-monopoly on large airlines with bad safety records (only Turkish Airlines is missing – they are in Star Alliance). Now that Garuda is improving its finances and even considering an IPO, it is surely a shoe-in for SkyTeam.
The head of a Chinese airline with a chequered financial past was quoted as saying that he would consider joining an alliances but One World is for rich airlines, Star Alliance already has a lot of members so he will look to SkyTeam.
The alliance is at serious risk of making itself look distinctly third-rate and their new recruit does not do anything to improve the image.