SkyTeam sees little upside in 'toxic' Indian market

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SkyTeam says it still does not have a solution for its network's blank space in India, and that the alliance is currently not in talks with any airlines in the country regarding a possible membership.

"In India, we don't have an answer. There are no talks ongoing there at all," SkyTeam managing director Michael Wisbrun tells reporters on the sidelines of Garuda Indonesia's joining ceremony in Bali.

"To be honest India is so in flux, it's a toxic environment, so everybody is very careful. If the market is not sorted out by the players themselves, an alliance doesn't make sense."

Wisbrun stressed however that India is a market with "huge potential", and so SkyTeam member carriers are continuously talking to players in the market on possible collaborations such as codesharing.

Besides India, Wisbrun says Brazil remains another major market where the alliance does not have a member.

He acknowledges however that Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol already has partnerships with two of its members - Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM, and that the carrier could thus become "a connected partner".

“As a low-cost carrier, the complexity of SkyTeam, of an alliance, is not what they (Gol) are looking for,” says Wisbrun.

He adds however that LCCs are crucial players in some markets, and that a trial involving Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet and at least five SkyTeam members are ongoing. The trial involves the creation of a common simple interface for use by passengers travelling through Vancouver on SkyTeam and WestJet flights.

“We’re now discussing the same with Gol in Brazil,” says Wisbrun.

“I am interested in the flow of passengers, a smooth transfer. Customers and members looking at the same. That type of connectivity (with LCCs) I do foresee in the future. Not a membership, just a simple standard interface which we call SkyTeam Connect."