Philippine Airlines will join an alliance…the question if not if, but when. In fact, “It’s a process that has already started.”
Blogger Alex Macheras sat down with Philippine Airlines President Jaime Bautista. Bautista not only shared that his airline would like to join an alliance, but claimed that PAL is “now in the process” of joining one specific alliance. Which one remains tight-lipped, for now. But we can attempt to put together the pieces of the puzzle.
Macheras notes that Star Alliance is an unlikely match. That alliance already has several key partners in the region including Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways. Furthermore, CEO Jeffrey Goh was even even more explicit:
There is no immediate need to be focusing on recruiting a member from the Philippines. I would not say that we see Philippine Airlines as a prospective new member. Clearly, if you just think about the network of Philippine Airlines today, they have overlapping services with some of our members.
That hasn’t stopped other carriers from being added, but I simply do not see the strategic value for Star Alliance. Apparently the Star Alliance leader also does not.
Oneworld has Malaysia Airlines in SE Asia as well as the Cathay Pacific and JAL network, but Philippine Airlines would bolster the network and potentially benefit American Airlines. With large a population of Filipino-Americans in the USA, codeshare domestic flights with AA could connect more people to Manila, benefiting both airlines. Philippine Airlines would potentially also have access to connecting passengers from Europe on British Airways and Iberia and from the Middle East on Qatar.
That leaves SkyTeam, which I think is the strongest contender. While oneworld makes more sense practically, realistically the bonds are already strong between PAL and many SkyTeam carriers. Philippine Airlines already partners with:
- China Airlines
- Garuda Indonesia
- Vietnam Airlines
- Xiamen Airlines
Like oneworld, the value for PAL will be in connections in Europe and North America. Delta and Air France/KLM could easily make this possible.
Honestly, none of the alliances need PAL. The route map is almost entirely duplicative through various partners. But perhaps the old adage “keep your friends close and enemies closer” plays out here. Regional “frenemies” may be a better alternative to letting Philippine Airlines get snapped up by another alliance. My prediction is SkyTeam.