Virgin Atlantic has never been a member of a global alliance and is still not certain that it will be. But if and when that happens, the Delta Air Lines/Air France-KLM led SkyTeam alliance will be the one “for all the [obvious] reasons”, says Craig Kreeger.
He says: “The open question is whether that makes sense relative to a blend of bilateral partnerships that collectively adds its own set of values. Today we have a number of partners who are not in SkyTeam that generate value for our company and we’re very happy with.
“So what we need to decide is whether there’s more value for Virgin Atlantic to be a member of SkyTeam and no longer have some of those partners, or if there’s more value to continue a strategy of having bilateral partners. And that’s not a simple question.”
Kreeger points out that, with 60% of the Virgin Atlantic route network going to and from the USA, ensuring its Delta tie-up runs smoothly is “more valuable than the sum total of all other partnerships”.
He adds: “We’re very focused on trying to do things in the right order – firstly, get [the Delta tie-up] running successfully, secondly, go look at other bilateral partnerships, like KLM and Air France for example, and thirdly, whether it makes sense to join an alliance.”
Kreeger says he doesn’t know where Virgin stands from SkyTeam’s perspective, in terms of whether the alliance and its members would welcome it joining. With regards to Air France-KLM’s position as the alliance’s prime European members, Kreeger says he is “optimistic” that they could reach agreement about Virgin joining, should it decide to do so.