A Fourth Airline Alliance Launched Today: Spring Alliance Models Itself On Star, SkyTeam

Three global alliances dominate aviation: Star Alliance, oneworld, and SkyTeam. In the U.S., Star is led by United and joined by carriers such as Lufthansa, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and Thai. oneworld includes American and Alaska along with British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qantas, and more. And SkyTeam includes Delta along with Air France KLM, Vietnam Airlines, and many of the world’s leftovers.

Etihad Airways led a ‘fourth alliance’ of broken airlines that the carrier had invested in like Alitalia and air berlin. That didn’t work out because buying stakes in several money-losing carriers just meant a share in lots of losses.

Now the aviation world has a new ‘fourth alliance’ called the Spring Alliance meant to unify airlines in Africa.

The project launches out of Lagos, Nigeria with six Nigerian carriers: Azman Air, United Nigeria Airlines, Arik, Air Peace, Aero Contractors, and Max Air.

Although the carriers did not elaborate on what the partnership or alliance entails, there are indications that they are working towards easier ticket booking, simplified operations such as check-in and baggage handling among others.

The Chairman of Air Peace promises that the alliance will mean interline re-accommodation for passengers during irregular operations, and that other airlines in Africa will be welcomed into the alliance.

In some ways this is odd. An alliance lets an airline in one region extend its reach, and leads customers of one airline to choose an allied competitor over other airlines in that competitor’s region. When you have more than one alliance member in a region, they cannibalize each other. And here the Spring Alliance starts with six in the same country and no other airlines outside of the country.

At the same time, an alliance can become a weak form of merger, most useful perhaps where anti-trust laws would prevent mergers — or where anti-trust laws are weak and would allow airlines to create a cartel. Spring Alliance may hope to cartelize Nigerian – and then African – aviation.

spring alliance member max air
Credit: Max Air

Already Nigeria’s aviation sector is marked by protectionism and strange cargo, since apparently Nigerians order pizza from London and have it delivered on British Airways.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You hit the nail on the head. It was announced last week that the six founder members of this “alliance” were under investigation by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) in Nigeria on charges that they “encouraged or consented to coordinated conduct in fixing prices, otherwise known as cartel activity”. This is an attempt for them to legitimize this activity post-facto through the back door. Both NCAA and FCCPC claim jurisdiction over the commercial activity of airlines, so getting NCAA to approve an alliance would give them enough time to muddy the waters and stall the FCCPC until after the elections in the hope that a new head of that agency will drop the investigation.

  2. I think they also offer 1 million usd from idi amin’s treasure once you flight 2 roundtrips

  3. Sean M has it right! This is literally a ruse to try and stave off more bad press and governmental action before the national elections. Very corrupt. No other country in the world has 6 OVERLAPPING members of an “alliance”. So weird.

  4. Will they ask for your bank account information, social security number and password to join their frequent flier program or book a ticket?

  5. Your welcome letter will make some passing comment on a deceased relative of yours in Nigeria and a number to call if interested in 25 million dollars

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