Taiwan's China Airlines is seeking to join the SkyTeam alliance in a move that could make it the group's third Asian member.

CAL executives revealed in May during a frequent-flyer programme signing ceremony with Northwest Airlines that an application for SkyTeam membership will be submitted later this year. They expect CAL will be able to join the alliance in 2008.

In addition to Northwest, CAL has frequent flyer or codeshare pacts with SkyTeam's Alitalia, Delta Air Lines and Korean Air. The carrier will begin co-operating with Northwest in August. At present Korean Air is the sole SkyTeam Asian member, but later this year the alliance adds China Southern Airlines.

CAL's membership status is complicated by the fact that the world's major alliance groupings have been actively courting mainland Chinese carriers as members in recent years, and political sensitivities have left them wary about adding Taiwanese partners. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and there are no diplomatic ties between the two sides, although their respective airlines have good working relationships.

CAL's home rival EVA Air has yet to declare an interest in joining an alliance. It has bilateral partnerships with members of all three main groupings.


Source: Airline Business