The future of the Aeroplan loyalty program remains in flux after parent-company Aimia Inc. rejected a bid from Air Canada for the program late Thursday. Aimia says its now in talks on a potential partnership with the Oneworld alliance, a rival to the Star Alliance network in which Air Canada is a member. For Canadian fliers, this could mean a shift in which airlines you’ll be able to earn and redeem points with as Air Canada’s partnership with Aeroplan is set to end in 2020.
As negotiations continue, here’s a look at the major global airline alliances:
Star Alliance was the first global airline alliance. Formed in 1997, it now counts 28 airlines as members, including Air Canada, United Airlines, Lufthansa, and Air China. The alliance flies more than 725 million customers a year to 193 countries.
Since Air Canada is part of Star Alliance, Aeroplan members can earn and redeem points on flights within the airline network and have access to the 1,317 destinations it serves. Members on the highest tier of the loyalty program also have access to more than 1,000 airport lounges.
Besides Air Canada, other members of the alliance fly to 12 destinations in Canada from Victoria to St. John’s. Partners that fly to Canada include United, Aegean, Copa Airlines, Egyptair, Avianca, Air Portugal, Ethiopian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Polish Airlines, South African Airways, Air New Zealand, Air China, and All Nippon Airways.
The Oneworld alliance, started in 1998, has 13 members including American Airlines, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific. The network says it flies 530 million passengers a year to more than 150 countries. Top tier members have access to more than 650 airport lounges.
Oneworld member airlines flying to Canada include British Airways, American, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Qatar Airways, and Japan Air Lines. The alliance has affiliations between member airlines and some regional carriers, but none based in Canada.
Formed in 2000, SkyTeam has 20 member airlines including Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, AeroMexico, Air France, and China Southern. The alliance serves 177 countries and flies about 730 million passengers a year, with more than 600 airport lounges in its network.
SkyTeam members that fly from Canada include Delta, AeroMexico, China Southern, China Eastern, Air France, Korean Air, Xiamen Airlines, KLM, Saudi Arabian Airlines, and Alitalia.
WestJet is not directly part of the SkyTeam alliance, but does have partnerships with several of its member airlines. Members of WestJet’s own loyalty program called WestJet Rewards can earn and redeem points when flying on Air France, Delta, KLM, and Qantas. The company says it’s not interested in partnering with Aimia on Aeroplan.