What are Codeshare Agreements?

The term “codeshare” has been used over the past decades by many people, even persons not travelling too frequently. But is it known what it stands for? And what is it all about?

As per definition, a codeshare agreement is a business arrangement in which at least two airlines publish and market the same flight under their own flight number.
This leads to one airline flying (= operating carrier) and at least one other airline (= marketing carrier) selling seats on that same flight, but not actually operating themselves. Unlike the opinion of many passengers, codeshare agreements not only exist within the airline alliance.

Photo source: Connecting operation: LO67 (operated by LOT) from WAW to SIN, LO4003 (operated by Singapore Airlines) from SIN to SYD

History

The first codesharing agreement, although not carrying that name, started in 1967 between Allegheny Airlines with a commuter airline within the US. After deregulation, this practice became more popular. The term itself evolved when Qantas and American Airlines started such an agreement in 1989. Same in Europe, after deregulation, codeshare agreements became more popular, but only by 1993.

Codeshare agreements types and the associated benefits

Parrallel operation: Two airlines operate the same route and use each other’s codes as their own. Benefits: airlines can offer their customers more choice, better schedules and rebooking options.

Connecting operation: When an airline sells a ticket from origin to destination via another airport and actually only operates between one of the two involved routes, while the other route is operated by another airline. Airlines can sell tickets on flights, even if the flight is only part of the whole journey, better than nothing at all. It also gives loyal customers the option to fly at least a part of their travel with their favorite airline.

Unilateral operation: Only one airline is operating, while the other airlines, instead of flying themselves (a reason could be not enough demand for two airlines operating between two city pairs), is just selling seats. It allows an airline to offer seats to places where they do not fly. In most cases, “their” customers also can earn miles as they are booked on the marketing carrier.

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