Virgin Australia: no plans to join Star Alliance, maybe SkyTeam?

Virgin Australia: no plans to join Star Alliance, maybe SkyTeam?

Virgin Australia has poured cold water on speculation that it's planning to join the Star Alliance group of airlines, with CEO John Borghetti suggesting that, if anything, SkyTeam could be a better fit.

Although Virgin shareholder Air New Zealand and partner Singapore Airlines both belong to Star, this doesn't make that alliance a fait accompli, Borghetti told  The Australian.

"It's wrong to assume Star is the obvious choice" he said, citing that Virgin's US partner Delta Air Lines "is in Sky Team and Sky Team is a very formidable group, and I think Delta are terrific partners."

But Borghetti says he has no intention of joining a global alliance right now, echoing his comments to Australian Business Traveller in mid-2011, when he told us "You know, we've got so much stuff going on at Virgin Australia that that is really not in our thinking at the moment. That is something we'll think about in 2012 and beyond."

"Beyond" appears the operative word now, with Borghetti even questioning the need to sign up with any alliance while he continues to build Virgin's own 'virtual international network' by mixing and matching airlines according to a simpler 'best fit' rule.

"There's no question that cross-border mergers are happening and you wonder whether that's going to impact on those alliances" Borghetti told The Australian. "And there are more and more bilaterals being concluded just like we've done between partners which don't restrict your ability to work with people."

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Al Glidden


    5 Apr, 2012 05:19 pm

    Sounds like Borghetti is either playing a little 'hard to get' or just being smart and not rushing into anything. I'd like Virgin to join Star Alliance, I think they'd be a good fit and Star really does need a solid Australian footprint. But I can see Borghetti's point that Virgin doesn't really need an alliance, it's doing very well on its own by picking partner airlines on their own merits and in effect making its own alliance. I just wish there was one Virgin alliance between Virgin AU, US and Atlantic!

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  • here2go


    5 Apr, 2012 10:04 pm

    I'd say this is very much Borghetti playing hard to get.  Star Alliance and Sky Team need Virgin Australia more than the other way round.  By holding out, Borghetti can demand to keep the existing arrangements regardless of alliance.  Who can blame him?  

    Etihad is a good partner, as are Singapore Airlines and Air NZ.  With Star Alliance, let's be honest, who would want to partner with the shambles that are United at the moment when you've got Delta?  Sky Team also have the Chinese market tied down quite nicely and will soon have Indonesia covered with Garuda.  

    There's other players in the market pulling both ways, but ultimately, Borghettis tactic of playing hard to get and keeping options open is certainly far better way of conducting business that locking oneself down into a particular camp.

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  • AirportAddict


    5 Apr, 2012 05:52 pm

    Could they still maintain a good relationship with Delta if they joined Star Alliance? The best part about Star Alliance is that a high-tier card gets you into the lounges of nearly thirty airlines around the world. I would support Virgin Australia joining star alliance because of the fact that most of their current code-sharing partners are already in it and the reciprocal lounge access would be very broad.

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  • cbourl


    5 Apr, 2012 07:25 pm

    time to dump virgin then!!!! who'd fly them if u can fly biz on qantas!!!!  Im onl velocity gold after a lufthansa senator status match   cya virgin!

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  • AirportAddict


    7 Apr, 2012 12:46 pm

    I hope Virgin Australia reads this and knows the opinion of business travellers! Basically we dont want them to join SkyTeam!

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  • csmyth


    24 Apr, 2012 07:50 pm

    I use round the world tickets a lot as it saves me a bundle. I would fly virgin in australia if they were part of star alliance but for now I avoid them. Air new Zealand covers the routes I would use for connections and because of Virgins lack of star useability it loses all my business. Its crazy - I even caught myself using a qantas flight against my better judgement through necessity (never again!). SIngapore Airlines was a great start for Virgin, but now they need to make it could with global connections.

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  • Leslie Aron


    9 Feb, 2014 01:20 am

    Any news on VA joining an alliance?

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18 Jan, 2018 06:42 am


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