Each of the big three airline alliances – Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam – will welcome new members into their extended families this year.
That means more choice for business travellers in terms of connections, lounges and ways to earn and burn frequent flyer points. So who's made the list for 2014?
The Oneworld alliance will gain three valuable new members early this year, giving Qantas an additional three partners for codeshare flights.
Brazil's TAM Airlines and US Airways – which recently merged with existing Oneworld member American Airlines – will both sign on the dotted line on March 31st, with both leaving the competing Star Alliance in the process.
Although American Airlines already boasts plenty of well-established stateside routes, US Airways will improve connections to and along the US east coast due to its hubs at Washington's city-centre National airport (DCA), Philadelphia and at Charlotte in North Carolina.
TAM Airlines will join Chilean sibling LAN and LAN Colombia as Oneworld's South American members.
Although only LAN flies into Australia, and then with just one daily service between Sydney and Santiago which stops over in Auckland, travellers to Brazil will appreciate tapping into TAM's domestic and international network.
That will be especially appealing if you trade in your points for a jaunt on TAM's Boeing 777 first class: it's a "living room in the sky" suite, with everything from a wide couch and personal closet to a Nespresso machine!
SriLankan Airlines will join Oneworld shortly after TAM and US Airways sign up, adding a relatively small but strategically important partner to the alliance.
Sitting just off the coast of southern India the airline's Colombo hub should prove a useful location for oneworld, which had previously hoped to sign up now-defunct Indian airline Kingfisher to serve the subcontinent.
The airline won't just be useful for Australians heading to India for work, however – frequent flyers with points to burn will find that SriLankan is one of the best ways to get yourself to the relaxing resorts of Maldives.
SkyTeam will bring only one new member on this year, with Garuda Indonesia to join on March 5th.
This will be the seventh SkyTeam airline in Australian skies alongside China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines.
“Garuda Indonesia’s domestic and growing international network will give SkyTeam a footprint in Indonesia as we strengthen our presence in the Southeast Asia region” says SkyTeam managing director Michael Wisbrun.
Garuda's entry into SkyTeam is part of the Indonesian flag-carrier’s continued push into the premium travel market.
The airline's long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets offer new first class suites (shown above) plus fully lie-flat business class seats and will feature on the new Sydney-Jakarta-London route beginning May 28th.
For Star Alliance 2014 is pretty much all about Air India, which could officially join as early as June this year.
This will be Air India's second shot at joining Star Alliance after the airline's previous application to join the Star family was suspended in July 2011.
"We still have some work to do but I don’t see any barriers," says Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab.
"Without giving a specific date, one can say that we will complete all the ground work and formalities of Air India’s entry into the Star Alliance club by this summer" Schwab told journalists at a recent press briefing in Mumbai. "After that, they will be ready to join straight away."
Schwab has also hinted that another Indian carrier could soon join the Star Alliance family as the coalition scrambles for a large piece of the growing Indian air travel market.
Also on the calendar for the second quarter of 2014 is Avianca Brazil, a sibling of current Star member and Colombian flag-carrier Avianca.
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