Aeroflot is a surprisingly useful member of Skyteam for those wanting to redeem Delta miles.
Russia’s largest airline Aeroflot may opt out of the global SkyTeam alliance and join a different one due to disagreements with its code-sharing partners, the Kommersant daily reported Friday citing industry sources.
The reasons are that they are handcuffed into deals with Delta that make US pricing (in its view) uncompetitive, and frequent flyer policies that don’t work for them.
Aeroflot is reportedly unhappy with being tied into expensive prices set with its SkyTeam alliance partner Delta for flights to the United States, one source close to company management told the newspaper.
Competitors are offering fares considerably lower on flights with stopovers.
Aeroflot is also unhappy with the frequent flyer miles policies of SkyTeam, which it sees as “unprofitable”, the source told the newspaper.
My first read of ‘unprofitable’ frequent flyer policies was expense of redemption but that makes little sense since Skyteam is generally the least generous with redemptions, other alliances would likely drive up costs (as Continental found when it moved over to Star Alliance, its redemption costs were much higher than anticipated even after accounting for how much higher they anticipated costs would be).
So it almost has to be linked to the costs of providing benefits and elite qualifying miles. Delta, of course, now offers reduced status miles for Aaeroflot flights.
And word is Delta is using its frequent flyer partnerships to strong arm partners into business deals they aren’t otherwise comfortable with.
But it is highly unlikely that Aeroflot is actually looking to leave Skyteam and instead is sabre rattling as a negotiating tactic to push back on Delta. At least that’s my read.
If they were actually serious about leaving Skyteam, they’d be negotiating in private and not making noise in the press. It would be advantageous to them, if seeking best possible terms, to appear happy in Skyteam but with the idea that they could be induced into another alliance. Public griping about how unhappy you are makes it look like you want to leave and will take an inferior offer. It lowers your price.
It’s against Aeroflot’s interests to talk publicly about their desire to leave Skyteam if they actually want to leave Skyteam.
Unless, of course, they’re having trouble getting oneworld and Star to return their calls (which is unlikely). In that case, public chatter could induce individual member airlines who would see advantage in an Aeroflot linkup to start initiating conversations.
Much more likely is that Aeroflot is posturing, sending Delta a message that there’s a breaking point and to back off — that if they try to extract too much from the airline, that they’ll bolt and then Delta will be worse off.
In a separate piece, an Aeroflot executive is reported to say “[t]here is no point in cooperating with” Delta.
Now there’s certainly some threshold at which Aeroflot leaves, and I’m not saying it can’t happen, but the fact that this is being bandied in the press tells me we aren’t at that point. The speculation in the media is suggestive that Aeroflot isn’t actually likely to leave, rather than suggestive that they will.