SkyTeam looks to recruit new members

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SkyTeam has outlined its priorities for 2008, including the recruitment of new members and consolidating its operations at London Heathrow.

Following its quarterly meeting in late January, SkyTeam members said they hope to secure new members in 2008 although no deals are nearing completion. "We are concentrating on Latin America, Southeast Asia and India," says Korean Air senior vice-president international ­affairs Chul-Ho Hahm.

SkyTeam now has 11 full members and three associates. Romania's Tarom and Lebanon's Middle East Airlines expressed interest to join the new associate programme back in 2005. Air France vice-president alliances and international affairs Dominique Patry says these carriers are still expected to join, adding an application from Tarom is expected to be submitted soon but an application from MEA may be ­delayed by turmoil in Lebanon.

Meanwhile at Heathrow, SkyTeam has begun preparations for the move to T4, which is being vacated by British Airways. SkyTeam has been working on the project with airport operator BAA since 2006. Alitalia vice-president alliances and business development Giorgio Callegari says the move will finally begin at the end of March, when US members Continental, Delta and Northwest launch services to Heathrow. But the last member will not move into T4 until February 2009.

"We really plan to leverage Heathrow as a hub outside of our main markets," Callegari says. SkyTeam will have its first joint lounge at T4 and hopes the co-­location project will help it ­overcome its low market share at Heathrow.