A new partnership
Continental flies SkyTeam, joins Star Alliance
Continental has jumped ship from SkyTeam alliance into a new deal with Star Alliance. In moves similar to pre-World War I empires and cliques of high school girls, the alliance system has arisen among airlines in the past few decades as they search for ways to expand clout and destinations without adding equipment or personnel.
The switch for Continental became inevitable when its two domestic SkyTeam partners, Delta and Northwest, completed a merger that "relegated us, in effect, to junior-partner status," said Continental president Jeff Smisek. “It was a risk, but we're comfortable with the risk we've taken,” Smisek said of the first-ever transition of a major airline from one global alliance to another and the 16-month process to make the shift.
As the Chronicle reported, "Relative to its new Star partners, which include United Airlines, US Airways and 22 other carriers, Continental brings a stronger portfolio in Latin America, where it serves 29 destinations with nearly 65 daily departures in the region, many flowing through Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. United, by contrast, has a strong Asian route system."
Click2Houston also noted that "Darryl Jenkins, a consultant who has worked for major carriers including United, said there is 'a strong likelihood' that Continental and United will move from alliance partners to an eventual merger. Delta and Northwest worked together on SkyTeam for several years, learning about each other, before their deal last year."