|Launch date||14 May 1997|
|Non-voting members||40 affiliates|
|Annual passengers (M)||727.67|
|Annual RPK (G)||1,364|
|Headquarters||Frankfurt am Main, Germany|
Jeffrey Goh, CEO |
Calin Rovinescu, Chairman
|Alliance slogan||The Way the Earth Connects.|
Star Alliance is one of the world's largest global airline alliances. Founded on 14 May 1997, its current CEO is Jeffrey Goh and its headquarters is located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. As of April 2018, Star Alliance is the second largest global alliance by passenger count with 727.67 million, behind SkyTeam (730 million) and ahead of Oneworld (527.9 million). Its slogan is "The Way The Earth Connects".
Star Alliance's 27 member airlines operate a fleet of approximately 4,657 aircraft, serving more than 1,330 airports in 192 countries on more than 18,500 daily departures. The alliance has a two-tier rewards program, Silver and Gold, with incentives including priority boarding and upgrades. Like other airline alliances, Star Alliance airlines share airport terminals (known as co-location) and many member planes are painted in the alliance's livery.
1997–1999: First alliance
On 14 May 1997, an agreement was announced forming Star Alliance from five airlines on three continents: United Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways, Air Canada, and Lufthansa. The alliance chose Young & Rubicam for advertising, with a budget of $25 million (€18 million). The airlines shared the star logo from the beginning, with its five points representing the founding airlines. The alliance adopted its first slogan, "The Airline Network for Earth", with its goal "an alliance that will take passengers to every major city on earth".
The now defunct Brazilian airline VARIG joined the Star Alliance network on 22 October 1997, extending the alliance into South America. Also joining were Ansett Australia and Air New Zealand, expanding Star Alliance to Australia and the Pacific. With the addition of the latter two carriers, the alliance served 720 destinations in 110 countries with a combined fleet of 1,650 aircraft. The next airline to join was All Nippon Airways (ANA), the group's second Asian airline, on 15 October 1999.
During the early 2000s, a number of airlines joined Star Alliance; the Austrian Airlines Group (Austrian Airlines, Tyrolean Airways and Lauda Air) joined on 26 March 2000 and Singapore Airlines on 1 April. BMI (British Midland) and Mexicana Airlines joined on 1 July, bringing the alliance's membership to 13. The addition of BMI made London Heathrow the only European hub with two alliances. During the year, Emirates considered joining Star Alliance, but decided against it. That year the now-defunct BWIA West Indies Airways, which had entered an alliance with United Airlines, considered becoming a member but did not. In 2000, the alliance also opened its first three business centers (in Los Angeles, Frankfurt, and Bangkok) and announced the formation of an Alliance Management Team (AMT), the partnership's executive body. In September 2001, Ansett Australia (the alliance's only Australian member) left Star Alliance due to bankruptcy, giving most of the Australian market to Qantas (a Oneworld member). That year, Star Alliance announced the appointment of a new CEO, Jaan Albrecht.
Asiana Airlines joined the alliance on 1 March 2003, Spanair on 1 May, and LOT Polish Airlines (Poland's flag carrier) in October. Around this time, Mexicana Airlines left the alliance after deciding not to renew a codeshare agreement with United Airlines, later joining Oneworld. US Airways joined the alliance in May 2004, becoming its second US-based airline. In November Adria Airways, Blue1 and Croatia Airlines joined the alliance as its first three regional members.
Although Star Alliance invited Lineas Aereas Azteca in 2005 to join in mid-2007, the airline filed for bankruptcy. TAP Air Portugal joined on 14 March 2005, adding African destinations to the network. In April 2006 Swiss International Air Lines, the alliance's sixth European airline, and South African Airways (its first African carrier) became the 17th and 18th members.
2007: First decade
By May 2007, Star Alliance's 10th anniversary, its members had a combined 16,000 daily departures to 855 destinations in 155 countries and served 406 million passengers annually. The alliance introduced Biosphere Connections, a partnership with UNESCO, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Ramsar Convention On Wetlands to promote environmental sustainability.
Today, nearly 30% of global air travellers use the services of our member carriers or, looking at it from an overall industry perspective, two thirds of worldwide air travellers use one of the three airline alliances.
2008–2010: Second decade of operations
On 1 April 2008, Turkish Airlines joined the alliance after a 15-month integration process beginning in December 2006, becoming its seventh European airline and 20th member. EgyptAir, Egypt's national airline and Star Alliance's second African carrier, joined on 11 July 2008.
On 27 October 2009, Continental Airlines became the 25th member of Star Alliance after leaving SkyTeam three days earlier. According to alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht, "Bringing Continental Airlines into Star Alliance has been a truly unique experience. This is the first time an airline has moved directly from one alliance to another and I would like to thank all those involved in ensuring a smooth switch". At the time, it was rumored that the switch was Continental's first move in a planned merger with United Airlines. Two months later, Brussels Airlines joined the alliance.
Shanghai Airlines left the alliance on 31 October 2010 when it merged with China Eastern Airlines, a SkyTeam member. On 29 September, the chief executive board approved Ethiopian Airlines as Star Alliance's 30th member. In 2010 the alliance flew to 1,172 airports in 181 countries, with about 21,200 daily departures.
2011–present: Further expansion and stability
Since 2011, the alliance has gained several large members but has lost others due to collapse or mergers. On 13 December 2011, Ethiopian Airlines joined, adding five countries and 24 destinations to the alliance's map.
Star Alliance saw a tumultuous 2012-13, starting with two key departures but ending with a major move into Latin America. In Europe, Spanair ceased operations, and BMI left after being acquired by International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of Oneworld members Iberia and British Airways.BMI was integrated into British Airways. In North America, Continental merged with United Airlines, reducing Star's membership further, even if it effectively stayed in the alliance after the merger. On 21 June, though, Avianca, TACA Airlines and Copa Airlines joined, massively increasing the alliance's Latin American presence. In November, Blue1 left after becoming an affiliate of parent Scandinavian Airlines. and Shenzhen Airlines joined, augmenting Air China's Chinese network. Taiwanese carrier EVA Air then joined on 18 June 2013, and after TACA's integration into Avianca, the alliance grew to 28 members, making it the largest of the three major airline alliances. On 13 December, Air India was again invited to begin an integration process with Star Alliance and joined the alliance on 3 July 2014.
Following this string of expansions, 2014 opened with two major departures through mergers. First, Brazilian carrier TAM Airlines merged with LAN Airlines to become LATAM Airlines Group, leaving the alliance without a presence in the world's fifth-largest country. Next, US Airways completed its merger with American Airlines and also left the alliance. Both parent companies stayed with Oneworld. On 24 June, though, the alliance finally approved Air India which joined on 11 July, leaving the alliance at 27 members, where it stands today.
Future expansion centers around the addition of Connecting Partners, subsidiaries or partners of alliance members which will add connectivity to the alliance without becoming full members. Avianca Brazil joined in this way on 22 July 2015, bringing the alliance back into the Brazilian market partially filling the void left by TAM. South African Airways' low-cost subsidiary, Mango, was initially announced to join as a Connecting Partner in Q3 2016 but has since been delayed. Juneyao Airlines, which codeshares with Shenzhen Airlines, joined as a Connecting Partner on 23 May 2017.
Member airlines and affiliates
Members and affiliates
A Founding member.
B Airlines operating under Air Canada Express, Air New Zealand Link, Cimber A/S, Lufthansa Regional and United Express are not necessarily members of Star Alliance. However, flights are operated on behalf of the respective member airlines, carry their designator code and are Star Alliance flights.
C Members of Lufthansa Regional that are fully owned by Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
D Air Canada Express flights are operated by Air Georgian, EVAS Air, Jazz Aviation, Sky Regional Airlines.
E Air India Regional flights are operated by Alliance Air.
F Air New Zealand Link flights are operated by Air Nelson and Mount Cook Airline.
G Lufthansa Regional flights are operated by Air Dolomiti and Lufthansa CityLine.
H United Express flights are operated by Air Wisconsin, Cape Air, CommutAir, ExpressJet Airlines, GoJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Trans States Airlines.
I South African low-cost airline Mango will join the alliance as a Connecting Partner but until now the new date is still unannounced.
J SunExpress (owned by member airlines Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa) and SunExpress Deutschland (owned by SunExpress) is not part of Star Alliance
L UNI Air is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eva Air, although it is not a part of Star Alliance.
M Kunming Airlines is a wholly owned subsidiary of Shenzhen Airlines, although it is not a part of Star Alliance.
N Thai Smile is a subsidiary of Thai Airways but not a Star Alliance member.
O Edelweiss Air is a subsidiary of Swiss International Air Lines but not a Star Alliance member.
|Connecting Partner||Joined||Fleet size|
|23 May 2017||64|
|24 May 2018||12|
|3 May 1999||12 September 2001||Left the alliance on 12 September 2001 after suffering financial collapse. Ansett resumed operations on 1 October 2001, but would permanently cease operations on 4 March 2002.|
|3 November 2004||1 November 2012||N/A||Left the alliance on 1 November 2012 after SAS took over mainline operations, was a member affiliate of Scandinavian Airlines, and is now a part of CityJet.|
|1 July 2000||20 April 2012||Left the alliance on 20 April 2012 as a result of its merger into International Airlines Group, a Oneworld alliance member|
|27 October 2009||3 March 2012||Merged with United Airlines on 3 March 2012.|
|1 July 2000||31 March 2004||Left the alliance in 2004 after deciding not to renew a codeshare alliance with United Airlines, opting instead to codeshare with American Airlines|
|12 December 2007||31 October 2010||Left the alliance on 31 October 2010 as a result of its merger with China Eastern Airlines, a SkyTeam member.|
|1 May 2003||27 January 2012||Ceased operations on 27 January 2012.|
|21 June 2012||27 May 2013||Merged with Avianca on 27 May 2013; renamed Avianca El Salvador.|
|13 May 2010||30 March 2014||Left the alliance on 30 March 2014 as a result of its merger with LAN Airlines, a Oneworld member.|
|4 May 2004||30 March 2014||Left the alliance on 30 March 2014 as a result of its merger with American Airlines, a Oneworld member.|
|22 October 1997||31 January 2007||Ceased operations on 20 July 2006.|
Former affiliates of current members
|Former affiliate||Joined||Left||Affiliate of||Notes|
|Now part of Air Canada.|
|Now known as Air Canada Express, a subsidiary of Air Canada.|
|Now part of ANA Wings, a subsidiary of ANA.|
|Merged with ANA Wings.|
|Branded as Air Canada Express, a subsidiary of Air Canada.|
|Now part of Cityjet after ceasing operations.|
|Now part of LOT Polish Airlines, ceased operations.|
|Now part of Turkish Airlines after going bankrupt.|
|Went bankrupt after its licence was voided.|
|Now part of Brussels Airlines after not gaining enough traction.|
|Replaced by Austrian Airlines operations, now known as Austrian myHoliday.|
|Now part of Lufthansa.|
|Became part of United Airlines.|
|Operations now folded into Swiss International Air Lines after being dissolved|
|Absorbed into Swiss International Air Lines.|
|Merged with Scoot under Scoot brand.|
|Now part of Austrian Airlines.|
|Absorbed into Air Canada.|
|Became part of United Airlines.|
Codeshare flights of Star Alliance airlines are consistent. This cooperation led to suspicions of anti-competitive behavior; the alliance was suspected by the European Union of being a virtual merger of its members, and speculation existed that if government regulations were relaxed the members would merge into one corporation.
Star Alliance developed a "regional" concept in 2004, which helped it penetrate markets with participation by smaller regional carriers. Regional Star Alliance members had to be sponsored by an alliance member. The alliance no longer designates airlines as "regional" members, now referring to its 27 airlines as "members".
In 2007, alliance members flew 18,521 daily flights to 1,321 airports in 193 countries with a fleet of 4,025 aircraft. Its members carried a total of 627.52 million passengers, with revenue of US$156.8 billion (€145 billion). It had 28 percent of the global market based on revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), greater than the combined market share of all airlines not in one of the three major alliances. All alliance carriers combined employed over 405,000 pilots, flight attendants, and other staff.
Co-location at airports (under one roof)
Star Alliance has two premium levels (Silver and Gold), based on a customer's status in a member's frequent-flyer program. Member and regional airlines recognize Star Silver and Gold status, with a few exceptions mostly pertaining to airport lounge access. Membership is based on the frequent-flyer programs of the individual airlines. Many members have a premium status beyond Gold, which is not recognized across the alliance.
Star Alliance Silver
Star Alliance Silver status is given to customers who have reached a premium level of a member carrier's frequent-flyer program. Benefits are priority reservation wait-listing and airport stand-by. Some airlines also offer priority airport check-in, baggage handling and boarding; preferred seating; an additional checked-luggage allowance, and waived fees for two checked bags.
Star Alliance Gold
Star Alliance Gold status is given to customers who have reached a higher level of a member airline's frequent-flyer program. Benefits are priority reservations wait-listing, airport stand-by and check-in and baggage handling; an additional checked luggage allowance of 20 kg (or one extra piece, where the piece rule applies), and access to designated Star Alliance Gold lounges the day and place of departure with the presentation of a Star Alliance boarding pass. Some airlines also offer preferred seating (an exit seat or a special section of the plane); guaranteed seating on fully booked flights, subject to the booking class code and notice period, and free upgrades in the form of a voucher, certificate or automatic upgrade at check-in. United restricts US lounge access for their Gold Members to long-haul international passengers; Gold members from other carriers are welcome in US lounges run by United on all itineraries.
Qualifying tiers by airline
|Member airline||Mileage program||Star Silver
|Star Gold |
LOT Polish Airlines
Swiss International Air Lines
|Miles & More||Frequent Traveller||Senator |
|Air Canada||Aeroplan/Air Canada Altitude||Prestige 25K
Super Elite 100K
|Phoenix Miles||Silver||Gold |
|Air India||Flying Returns||Silver Edge Club||Golden Edge Club |
The Maharajah Club
|Air New Zealand||Airpoints||Silver||Gold |
|All Nippon Airways||ANA Mileage Club||Bronze||Super Flyers |
|Asiana Airlines||Asiana Club||Gold||Diamond |
|Avianca Brazil||Amigo||Silver||Gold |
|Copa Airlines||ConnectMiles||Silver||Gold |
|EgyptAir||EgyptAir Plus||Silver||Gold |
|Ethiopian Airlines||Sheba Miles||Silver Club||Gold Club|
|EVA Air||Infinity MileageLands||Infinity MileageLands Silver||Infinity MileageLands Gold |
Infinity MileageLands Diamond
|Scandinavian Airlines||EuroBonus||Silver||Gold |
|Singapore Airlines||KrisFlyer||Elite Silver||Elite Gold |
Solitaire PPS Club
|South African Airways||Voyager||Silver||Gold |
|TAP Air Portugal||Victoria||Silver||Gold|
|Thai Airways International||Royal Orchid Plus||Silver||Gold, Platinum|
|Turkish Airlines||Miles & Smiles||Classic Plus||Elite |
|United Airlines||MileagePlus||Premier Silver||Premier Gold |
Livery and logo
Some Star Alliance members paint some of their aircraft with the alliance livery, usually a white fuselage with "Star Alliance" across it and a black tail fin with the alliance logo; the color or design of the engine cowlings or winglets remains, depending on the member's livery. Singapore Airlines is the only exception, formerly keeping its own logo on the tails of its aircraft but now using the Star Alliance logo on white tails. Asiana Airlines was the first Star Alliance member to paint its aircraft in the current Star Alliance livery. Aircraft painted in an airline's regular livery have the Star Alliance logo between the cockpit and the first set of cabin doors.
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