Join the Club

Two Chinese carriers become a part of Star Alliance

By: Jim Calio

This is the first Image
At ceremonies held in China, two carriers
joined the Star Alliance.
Recognizing that China is the fastest-growing airline market in the world and that western U.S. gateways feed that market Star Alliance has announced the addition of two new carriers to its group, Air China and Shanghai Airlines.

Air China is China’s national carrier and the designated passenger airline partner of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Shanghai Airlines flies 140 domestic routes and 11 international and regional routes.

The announcement was made in two separate ceremonies at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport and the new Terminal 3 at Beijing’s Capital International Airport. The immediate effect of the announcement is to provide more opportunities for air travel within China for Star Alliance members. The group now consists of 19 carriers serving 160 countries with 17,000 flights daily. It is the largest airline alliance in the world.

“Now, our customers will have access to China’s domestic airports and especially the big financial centers of Shanghai and Beijing,” said Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht. “With the addition of Air China and Shanghai Airlines, we’ve added 51 new destinations in China.”

According to Albrecht, Star Alliance partners individually control 22 percent of the total airline market share in China, with 49 percent in Beijing and another 30 percent in Shanghai.

“These consolidations are in response to a specific geographical need,” he said. “Our customers have been pushing us to become more integrated.”

To that end, all Star Alliance carriers in Beijing will be housed in Terminal 3, scheduled to open next month in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics. In Shanghai, a similar arrangement called Move Under One Roof will locate Star Alliance carriers in the new Terminal 2.

Star Alliance has also announced that three other international carriers, Air India, EgyptAir and Turkish Airlines, will join the group within the next 12 to 18 months.

Albrecht also said he hopes that adding Air China and Shanghai Airlines to the Star Alliance will increase bookings from the U.S., especially from the West Coast.

“There will be more codeshares,” he said. “Now, for example, with United and Air China, the booking options will be multiplied. We hope that West Coast customers will ask for our carriers because of this and also because of the frequent-flier miles.”

As with all Star Alliance carriers, frequent-flier miles accumulated on one can be used on any other airline within the group.