But as alluring as Virgin Australia joining SkyTeam might be, there are several reasons that’s not about to happen.
First of all, Virgin’s focus is firmly fixed on bedding down its strong domestic position as a true Qantas challenger and an appealing choice for travellers, while keeping the bottom line sharp and in shape for a relisting on the ASX.
“We’re very focused on running the business and making sure that we’re in great form for eventual listing,” CEO Jayne Hrdlicka remarked at an aviation conference in Adelaide earlier this month – and it’s questionable how much of a boost joining SkyTeam would offer at this point.
Potential alliance membership for Virgin Australia, either SkyTeam or Star Alliance, has been a question stretching back to the days when John Borghetti was CEO – and even then, Borghetti several times attested it simply wasn’t a priority.
“You never say no to anything forever, but I just don’t see the merit in it and I don’t see what we would gain,” Borghetti told Executive Traveller back in March 2014.
Then as now, Virgin’s focus was on weaving together its own take on an alliance through a bespoke collection of international partners.
And Virgin’s done that incredibly well. For flights to Asia and the rest of the world it has Singapore Airlines and ANA, with United Airlines and Air Canada for the Americas – yes, all Star Alliance members – while Oneworld’s Qatar Airways and unaligned Etihad Airways bring their own Gulf-centric global networks to the table.
And of course, Virgin Atlantic sits proudly on that roster.
So while alliance membership doesn’t rule out partnerships with airlines outside the family, it’s arguable where Virgin Australia would really benefit from the SkyTeam portfolio.