The global alliances are watching as Aeromexico and Mexicana take new partners in the shape of Continental and American Airlines respectively.

From March, Aeromexico and Continental started codesharing on US-Mexico routes, with reciprocal frequent flyer and lounge benefits. A month later, Mexicana and American hope to launch a blanket codeshare that covers transborder, domestic and third-country flights. Their deal is subject to government approval.

Aeromexico's codeshare with Continental is a by-product of the growing alliance among Continental, Delta and Northwest. The three US carriers are increasing their codesharing on Latin routes, and the next natural step is for them to start codesharing with each other's Latin partners. Aeromexico is already a member of the SkyTeam alliance, anchored by Delta and Air France, and Continental and Northwest are moving toward SkyTeam inclusion.

Mexicana's codeshare with American represents a more fundamental shift. Mexicana has had a close alliance with United Airlines since 1997, but it ends on 31 March, the same day that Mexicana leaves the Star Alliance. Its codeshare with American starts two weeks later. American's deal with Mexicana ends its own long search for a Mexican partner. It has lacked one since it stopped codesharing with AeroCalifornia in 1999.

Mexicana has not explained its decision to leave its alliance with United and Star, but Star president Jaan Albrecht, a former senior Mexicana official, thinks that the carrier concluded it was out of step with United on how best to serve the ethnic travel market between Mexico and the USA. How that fits with a new pact with American remains to be seen.

Mexicana's codeshare with American raises the prospect of Mexicana becoming a oneworld member. Following the announcement by Iberia that it is forming a strategic alliance with Mexicana, Iberia's president Angel Mullor told a tourism show in Madrid that "Iberia would certainly like to invite Mexicana to oneworld and encourage it to join". Mexicana still codeshares bilaterally with several Star members and has given no hint of its alliance intentions.


Source: Airline Business