Turkish Airlines Joins Star Alliance

 For any airline, joining an alliance isn't as breezy as electronic check-ins...

By: Jimmy Im

For any airline, joining an alliance isn't as breezy as electronic check-ins. It's quite a lengthy process, taking several months to develop a strategy and study the potential benefits for both parties. For Turkish Airlines and Star Alliance, it took two years to finally reach a mutual agreement, with the growing Middle Eastern airline officially accepting the offer to join the Star Alliance network last month. The integration process takes approximately one year, following which Turkish Airlines will become the network’s 21st member carrier.

Dr. Candan Karlitekin, Chairman of Turkish Airlines, hopes people will realize the importance of this decision. "It's putting a huge responsibility of serious commitment onto our shoulders, but we're looking forward to seeing benefits for both parties from this alliance." With its fleet of 101 aircraft, Turkish Airlines will allow the network to offer more than 17,500 daily flights, serving 927 airports in 162 countries. Istanbul, the home base of Turkish Airlines, will become the foremost hub at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and act as a gateway to 31 new destinations and connections — primarily in Central Asia and the Middle East. The partnership will also extend customers’ benefits, with network coverage, additional frequent flyer opportunities, access to 660 lounges and alliance fare products. For Turkish Airlines, international exposure is the most sought-after advantage.

"To promote the Turkish Airlines logo alone would be impossible on a worldwide basis," says Jaan Albrecht, CEO of Star Alliance. "If you link logos under the Star Alliance umbrella, you multiply exposure and awareness. How would Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa work in a market like Canada alone?"

Turkish Airlines will participate in all Star Alliance initiatives aimed at reducing costs while improving customer service, such as collocation at airports, joint lounges, electronic ticketing and joint media purchasing.

The partnership also promises substantial financial gain. With the acquisition of Turkish Airlines, Star Alliance opens up to new sources of revenue. Already, Star Alliance generates several billion dollars in revenue per year, and the numbers should steadily increase.

One tactic which Star Alliance employs to successfully tap into key markets is its "White Spot Strategy," its program used to identify advantageous areas on the globe to target for alliance coverage. In 2007, the network now shifts its focus to India and Russia, having gained China and the Middle East as major players in 2006.

All member airlines are involved in the selection of new potential members invited to join the alliance.

"One reason Star Alliance airline members work so well is that we all network and share a vision of aviation and community," says Albrecht. "Fortunately, every member airline saw the overall advantages with Turkish Airlines."

Star Alliance was proud to announce South Africa Airways and SWISS as new members for 2006, with Shanghai Airlines and Air China to become fully integrated in 2007.

Current members of Star Alliance include: Air Canada, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, bmi, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, THAI, United, US Airways and VARIG Brazilian Airlines.


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