Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines has finalised its membership of the SkyTeam airline alliance, with subsidiary Shanghai Airlines also included in the deal. The move makes SkyTeam the predominant alliance in the Chinese market.
It's the second Chinese airline in SkyTeam, after Guangzhou-based China Southern, and flies from its hub at Pudong International Airport to both Sydney and Melbourne. Extensive connections from Shanghai are also available.
Joining an alliance means that frequent flyers can rack up airline miles -- and spend them -- across the member airlines.
Plus, there's reciprocal access for frequent flyers to airline lounges across the world.
While there's no Australian member of SkyTeam, Virgin Australia has been mooted as a potential candidate.
However, last month's strategic alliance with Star Alliance linchpin Singapore Airlines has Virgin membership less likely.
The second largest of the three major alliances, SkyTeam's members are Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM, Korean Air, TAROM and Vietnam Airlines -- plus now China Eastern.
Of those, China Southern, Delta, Korean, Vietnam Airlines and China Eastern fly to Australia.
Future SkyTeam members with Australian flights include Aerolineas Argentinas (which flies to Buenos Aires via Auckland), China Airlines (of Taiwan), and Garuda Indonesia.
Those airlines are expected to join the alliance in the next couple of years.
About John Walton
Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.