China Airlines Ltd., Taiwan’s biggest carrier, agreed to join the SkyTeam alliance led by Air France-KLM Group and Delta Air Lines Inc., two people with knowledge of the matter said.
The agreement may be announced as early as Sept. 14 by Taipei-based China Airlines, said the people, who asked not to be identified before an official release. Hamilton Liu, a spokesman for China Airlines, declined to comment, as did Nicolas Petteau, an Air France spokesman.
The expansion reinforces SkyTeam in east Asia, where it recruited Vietnam Airlines Corp. in June. Korean Air Lines Co. is a founding member, and China Eastern Airlines Corp. agreed in April to become the alliance’s second major Chinese carrier, joining China Southern Airlines Co. OneWorld, a rival airline grouping, still lacks a mainland Chinese partner for British Airways Plc and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, while Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Star Alliance has one, Air China Ltd.
“In quite a short time frame, SkyTeam has built up a strong offering in that zone, and this clearly extends it,” said Yan Derocles, a Paris-based analyst with Oddo Securities.
China Airlines climbed 2.4 percent to close at NT$19.25 in Taipei trading as of 1:30 p.m. local time. The benchmark Taiex index rose 0.7 percent.
European airlines account for most of the traffic to and from the region, and Asian governments including China want to redress the balance in favor of their own carriers, Derocles said in a phone interview.
SkyTeam’s eastward expansion “is important for Air France because it enables them to get back part of the benefit from that readjustment,” he said.