Philippine Airlines (PAL) may join the SkyTeam alliance…but it is in no rush.
PAL Vice President of Sales Ryan Uy was asked about alliances at a conference in Cebu this week. He proceeded to give a rather detailed answer:
Star Alliance is big, but you see a lot of overlaps in the region. While oneworld tends to work with the strong carriers in each geographic regions. SkyTeam seems to have the least overlap, as they have limited members.
With Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines in Star Alliance, there is indeed a great deal of overlap. Furthermore, with Air China, Asiana, ANA, and EVA also in the alliance and serving Manila, the case for PAL joining Star Alliance is a difficult one to make. On the other hand, ANA acquired a 9.5% stake in PAL last month.
It is true that oneworld tends to work with stronger carriers in the region, but Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon alone (or even JAL) are not enough to block PAL. The problem is nearby Malaysia Airlines, which serves many of the same destinations via its hub in Kuala Lumpur.
SkyTeam may have the least overlap, but I’m not sure it is the best match with both Vietnam Airlines and Garuda Indonesia plus a handful of Mainland Carriers and China Airlines.
And that’s the problem. PAL is like the last person standing in a game of musical chairs. It’s investing in a new fleet, serves not only the region but the USA, Canada, and Europe. It may not be profitable (yet) but that is hardly an abnormality in that region.
So perhaps that is why Uy continued:
PAL is keen to enter an alliance, but we are not in a rush and will take our time. We know that you need to have a sponsor and to be invited to the alliance,” he said. “Our plan now is to maximize both our both international and domestic networks.
PAL is expanding…perhaps even too quickly. The airline is talking about new service to Paris, Rome, and Seattle and is already selling tickets to new flights to Hanoi, New Delhi, and Phnom Penh. While joining an alliance is certainly tantalizing, PAL is wise to take it slow and see how it goes. Prestige alliances, just like prestige routes, can turn into loss leaders.
image: Philippine Airlines