|Launch date||14 May 1997|
|Non-voting members||40 affiliates|
|Annual passengers (M)||637.62|
|Annual RPK (G)||1,331|
|Management||Mark Schwab, CEO
Calin Rovinescu, Chairman
|Alliance slogan||The Way The Earth Connects|
|Headquarters||Frankfurt am Main, Germany|
The Star Alliance is the world's largest global airline alliance, headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and led by current CEO Mark Schwab. It was founded on May 14, 1997, with its name and emblem representing the five founding airlines. Star Alliance has since grown considerably and its current membership includes 27 airlines which have more than 18,521 daily departures combined. These flights reach 1,321 airports in more than 193 countries, with an annual number of 637.6 million passengers.
- 1 Membership history
- 2 Member airlines
- 3 Former members and affiliates
- 4 Customer service
- 5 Livery and logo
- 6 References
- 7 External links
1997–1999: The first three years
On 14 May 1997, five airlines from three continents – Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways International, Air Canada, Lufthansa, and United Airlines came together to launch Star Alliance. The newly established alliance selected Young & Rubicam Advertising to increase awareness of the new alliance, with a budget of $25 million, (€18 million). The five airlines shared the traditional star logo from the beginning with the five points representing the five founding airlines. The alliance also adopted their first slogan "The Airline Network for Earth", with the goal to have "an alliance that will take passengers to every major city on earth".
On 3 May 1999, Ansett Australia and Air New Zealand both became members of the alliance, connecting the alliance to Australia and the Pacific. Upon the joining of the two carriers, Star Alliance served 720 destinations in 110 countries with a combined fleet of 1,650 aircraft.
2000: Major expansion
The new millennium started off with the significant admission of The Austrian Airlines Group (Austrian Airlines, Tyrolean Airways and Lauda Air) in 26 March. Singapore Airlines joined on 1 April giving the alliance an even stronger foothold in the Asian market. Then on 1 July BMI (British Midland) and Mexicana Airlines simultaneously joined Star Alliance, bringing the total membership tally up to 13. The joining of BMI made London Heathrow the only European hub with two competing alliances. During the year, Emirates considered joining Star Alliance, but later opted not to join. The same year, now defunct BWIA West Indies Airways who had entered an alliance with United Airlines considered becoming a member. BWIA however never joined the alliance. In 2000, the alliance also opened its first three business centers through the course of the year in Los Angeles, Frankfurt, and Bangkok as well as announcing the completion of its full-time Alliance Management Team (AMT) – the executive body of the partnership.
In September 2001, Ansett Australia left the alliance due to bankruptcy which subsequently handed over a majority of the Australian market to Qantas, a rival Oneworld Alliance member. During this year, Star Alliance also announced the appointment of their new CEO, Jaan Albrecht.
2003 saw the admission of three new airlines to the alliance. Asiana Airlines joined on 1 March, Spanair joined on 1 May, and then, LOT Polish Airlines, the official flag carrier of Poland, joined in October.
In March 2004, Mexicana Airlines left Star Alliance after deciding not to renew a codeshare deal with United Airlines and later joined Oneworld. US Airways then joined the alliance in May, becoming the alliance's second US-based airline. Finally, in November, Adria Airways, Blue1, and Croatia Airlines joined the alliance as the first three regional members.
In 2005, Star Alliance invited Lineas Aereas Azteca to join the alliance in mid-2007, but the airline went bankrupt and never joined the alliance. Then, Star Alliance saw the admission of TAP Portugal on 14 March, thereby adding new African destinations to Star Alliance's network. After merging with US Airways under the US Airways name, America West Airlines joined, working through US Airways original membership, but would never be considered an individual member.
In April 2006, Swiss International Air Lines joined the alliance as its 17th member and its sixth airline from Europe. SWISS' predecessor, Swissair was due to join the alliance in 2001, but the airline went bankrupt in October of that year and went through an extensive restructuring process before joining five years later. April also saw the admission of South African Airways, being Star Alliance's first African member. They also were the 18th member of the alliance.
In May 2007, Star Alliance and its members celebrated the alliance's 10th anniversary. During the previous decade, Star Alliance had grown from a membership of five airlines to include 18 carriers around the world. Each day the Star Alliance's members had a combined daily departure of 16,000 to 855 destinations in 155 countries, serving 406 million passengers annually. As part of the celebration and to increase awareness of the alliance, Star Alliance launched a global consumer promotion. Prizes included round-the-world air tickets, the paying of related expenses, as well as monetary prizes. On the same day, Star Alliance also launched the Biosphere Connections, a partnership with three international organisations – UNESCO, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and 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 world-wide air travellers use one of the three airline alliances.||”|
—Jaan Albrecht, former CEO Star Alliance
Other significant events which took place included the ejection of VARIG from the alliance on 31 January. In addition to this, the first two major Chinese airlines to join the alliance, Air China and Shanghai Airlines, joined on 12 December.
2008–2010: Expansion and 2nd decade of operations
On 1 April 2008, Turkish Airlines joined the alliance after an 18-month integration process since December 2006, becoming the seventh European airline in the alliance, which had thus reached a total of 20 members. EgyptAir, the official airline of Egypt, joined on 11 July 2008, becoming the second African airline. The airline joined following its 75th anniversary the previous year, an event which EgyptAir used to subsequently relaunch its image and brand.
On 27 October 2009, Continental Airlines became the 25th full member of the alliance after leaving SkyTeam on 24 October. At a joining ceremony in New York City, Jaan Albrecht, former CEO of Star Alliance, said, "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 rumoured that the switch was part of Continental's initial move in its plan of a United-Continental merge.
On 13 May 2010, leading Brazilian carrier TAM Airlines was admitted following a joining ceremony in São Paulo, thereby furthering the alliance's foothold in South America, which is currently considered by SkyTeam as an important market. Aegean Airlines, Greece's largest airline in terms of passengers carried, joined on 30 June. Fellow Greek airline Olympic Air originally intended to apply to join the alliance if their merger with Aegean Airlines was approved by the EU.
Shanghai Airlines left the alliance on 31 October 2010, due to its merger with China Eastern Airlines, a future member of Star Alliance's rival SkyTeam. On 29 September, the Chief Executive Board approved Ethiopian Airlines's application for membership, with the airline to become the 30th member, further strengthening Star Alliance in the African region.
As of September 2010, Star Alliance flew to 1,172 airports in 181 countries, with approximately 21,200 daily departures.
Expansion during 2011 and beyond
The new decade saw Star Alliance adding more members and losing some due to either the airline collapsing or for corporate restructuring.
In August, 2011, after continued delays, Air India was finally rejected for membership after failing to meet the requirements for membership. Later that year, on 13 December 2011, Ethiopian Airlines joined, adding five new countries and 24 destinations to the alliance's route map.
2012 had a lot of things happening to Star Alliance, with many airlines leaving as well as many airlines joining. In the beginning of January 2012 Continental Airlines completed its merger with United Airlines, thus formally ending its existence and membership in the alliance. Shortly after this, on 27 January, longtime member Spanair left the alliance after suffering financial collapse and ceasing operations. bmi then left on 20 April after its acquisition by International Airlines Group (IAG), a parent company of Oneworld Members Iberia and British Airways. On 21 June 2012 Avianca, TACA Airlines and Copa Airlines all simultaneously joined the alliance, significantly increasing the alliance's presence in Latin America. Then in November, Blue1 left the alliance, becoming an affiliate of parent Scandinavian Airlines. Finally, to end one of the most difficult years in the alliance's history, Shenzhen Airlines joined on 29 November 2012, complementing Air China's Chinese network.
On 8 March 2013 TAM Airlines officially announced its departure, long expected after its merger with LAN Airlines to become LATAM Airlines Group. Later during the year, with the addition of EVA Air on 18 June and TACA's integration into Avianca, the alliance now had 28 members, making it the largest of the three main airline alliances. On 13 December 2013, Air India was officially invited to join Star Alliance again, and the integration process recommenced once again. On 31 March 2014, TAM Airlines left Star Alliance and joined Oneworld, and US Airways left as well as an affiliate of American Airlines. On the same day that US Airways and TAM Airlines left, Avianca Brazil announced that they would join Star Alliance in 2014 as an affiliate of the Avianca brand. After TAM Airlines and US Airways left Star Alliance, the alliance had 26 airlines. On 24 June 2014, Air India had its membership approved by other members after several years of waiting, and it joined the alliance on 11 July 2014.  Avianca in Brazil joined on 22 July 2015 as the 28th member.
Full members and their member affiliates
A Founding member.
B Airlines operating under the Air Canada Express, Air New Zealand Link, Lufthansa Regional, Tyrolean Airways and United Express brands 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, Eagle Airways, Mount Cook Airline.
G Lufthansa Regional flights are operated by Air Dolomiti, Eurowings, Lufthansa CityLine.
H United Express flights are operated by Cape Air, CommutAir, ExpressJet Airlines, GoJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airlines, Shuttle America, SkyWest Airlines, and Trans States Airlines.
As of September 2015, there are currently no confirmed new members scheduled to join the alliance.
Former members and affiliates
Former members and their member affiliates
|Former member airline||Joined||Exited||Affiliates||Notes|
|Ansett Australia||3 May 1999||12 September 2001|| Aeropelican Air Services
|Collapsed on 12 September 2001|
|Blue1||3 November 2004||1 November 2012||N/A||Left the alliance on 1 November 2012 after SAS took over mainline operations, now a member affiliate of Scandinavian Airlines|
|British Midland International||1 July 2000||20 April 2012|| BMI regional
|Left the alliance on 20 April 2012 as a result of its merger with International Airlines Group. IAG's subsidiaries British Airways and Iberia are Oneworld members; BMI merged with British Airways on 27 October 2012|
|Continental Airlines||27 October 2009||3 March 2012|| Continental Connection
|Merged with United Airlines on 3 March 2012|
|Mexicana||1 July 2000||31 March 2004||Aerocaribe||Left the alliance in 2004 after deciding not to renew a codeshare alliance with United Airlines, opting instead to codeshare with American Airlines, and joined Oneworld on 10 November 2009. Collapsed on 28 August 2010|
|Shanghai Airlines||12 December 2007||31 October 2010||China United Airlines||Left the alliance on 31 October 2010 as a result of its merger with China Eastern Airlines, a SkyTeam member|
|Spanair||1 May 2003||27 January 2012||AeBal||Collapsed on 27 January 2012|
|TACA Airlines||21 June 2012||27 May 2013|| TACA Regional operated by:
|Merged with Avianca on 27 May 2013. Renamed as Avianca El Salvador|
|TAM Airlines||13 May 2010||30 March 2014||TAM Paraguay||Left the alliance on 30 March 2014 as a result of its merger with LAN Airlines, a Oneworld member|
|US Airways||4 May 2004||30 March 2014|| US Airways Express
US Airways Shuttle
|Left the alliance on 30 March 2014 as a result of its merger with American Airlines, a Oneworld member|
|Varig||22 October 1997||31 January 2007|| Nordeste
|Ceased operations on 20 July 2006|
Former member affiliates of current full members
|Former member affiliate||Joined||Exited||Member affiliate of||Notes|
|Air Canada Tango||
||Air Canada||Air Canada Tango was dissolved and now is part of Air Canada|
||All Nippon Airways|
||All Nippon Airways|
||LOT Polish Airlines|
|Cyprus Turkish Airlines||
||Austrian Airlines||Lauda Air was dissolved and replaced by Austrian Airlines operations|
||United Airlines||United Shuttle's operations ceased and became part of United Airlines|
|Swiss Private Aviation||
||Swiss International Air Lines|
||Austrian Airlines||Tyrolean Airways was dissolved and now is part of Austrian Airlines|
Codeshare flights between these airlines are, for the most part, seamless. This tight cooperation led to suspicions of anti-competitive behaviour, and the alliance was investigated by the European Union as a virtual merger of its members. Indeed, some speculated that if government regulations were relaxed, the members would merge into a single corporation, although no evidence has yet materialized. Prior to Star Alliance, Northwest Airlines and KLM were operating together as the forerunners of the modern airline alliance system since 1993, although there had been even earlier pairings and groupings of airlines for decades on a less formal level. The creation of Star Alliance was a milestone in airline history because of its size. It sparked the formation of rivals, notably SkyTeam and Oneworld.
The alliance developed the "Regional" concept in 2004, which helped Star Alliance penetrate individual markets with the regional participation of smaller carriers. Regional Star Alliance members had to be sponsored by an existing full Star Alliance member. However, Star Alliance has stopped designating airlines as "Regional" members and now refers to all the 27 airlines as just "members".
Star Alliance members now fly over 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 a turnover of US$156.8 billion, €145 billion. The alliance's market share is 28% of the global market based on revenue passenger kilometers (RPK), which is greater than the combined market share of all airlines that are not in any of the three major alliances. All Star Alliance carriers combined employ over 405,000 pilots, flight attendants, and other staff. Star Alliance was voted best airline alliance in the Skytrax 2007 World Airline Awards.
Co-location at Airports (move under one roof)
|Barcelona||Barcelona–El Prat Airport||BCN||Terminal 1|
|Beijing||Beijing Capital International Airport||PEK||Terminal 3|
|Cairo||Cairo International Airport||CAI||Terminal 3|
|Chongqing||Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport||CKG||Terminal 2B|
|Delhi||Indira Gandhi International Airport||DEL||Terminal 3|
|Frankfurt||Frankfurt Airport||FRA||Terminal 1 "Star Alliance Terminal"|
|Hong Kong||Hong Kong International Airport||HKG||Terminal 1|
|London||London Heathrow Airport||LHR||Terminal 2||
|Mexico City||Benito Juárez International Airport||MEX||Terminal 1||
|Miami||Miami International Airport||MIA||Concourse J||
|Munich||Munich Airport||MUC||Terminal 2||
|Moscow||Domodedovo International Airport||DME||Terminal A|
|Paris||Charles de Gaulle Airport||CDG||Terminal 1|
|Phuket||Phuket International Airport||HKT||Terminal 1||
|Seoul||Incheon International Airport||ICN||Concourse A||
|Shanghai||Shanghai Pudong International Airport||PVG||Terminal 2|
|Stockholm||Stockholm-Arlanda Airport||ARN||Terminal 5||
|Taipei||Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport||TPE||Terminal 2||
|Tokyo||Narita International Airport||NRT||Terminal 1 – South Wing|
|Toronto||Toronto Pearson International Airport||YYZ||Terminal 1|
|Vienna||Vienna International Airport||VIE||Austrian Star Alliance Terminal (Check-in 3)|
Star Alliance has two premium levels, Silver and Gold, based on a customer's tier status in a member carrier's frequent flyer program. Each of the member and regional airlines recognizes Star Silver/Gold status, with a few exceptions (mainly pertaining to airport lounge access). The statuses have no specific requirements of their own; membership is based solely on the frequent flyer programs of individual member airlines. Many member airlines also have an additional premium status beyond Gold which is not recognised across Star Alliance.
Star Alliance Silver
Star Alliance Silver status is awarded to customers who have reached a premium level of a member carrier's frequent flyer program.
Benefits of Star Alliance Silver membership:
- Priority reservations waitlisting
- Priority airport stand-by
Some airlines also offer the following to Silver members:
- Priority boarding
- Priority airport check-in
- Priority baggage handling
- Preferred seating
- Additional checked luggage allowance
- Waived fees for 1st and 2nd checked bags
Star Alliance Gold
Star Alliance Gold status is awarded to customers who have reached a high level of a member airline's frequent flyer program.
Benefits of Star Alliance Gold membership:
- Priority reservations waitlisting
- Priority airport stand-by
- Priority boarding
- Priority airport check-in
- Priority baggage handling
- Additional checked luggage allowance of 20 kg (or one extra piece where the piece concept applies)
- Airport lounge access to designated Star Alliance Gold lounges on the day and at the place of departure, on presentation of a valid Star Alliance boarding pass.
Some airlines also offer the following to Gold members:
- Preferred seating (exit seat, or even on a special section on the plane on some carriers, which provides more leg room)
- Guaranteed seating on fully booked flights (subject to the booking class code and notice period)
- Free upgrade (in the form of voucher/certificate or automatic upgrade upon 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. Unlike in Oneworld and Skyteam, United Star Gold members are admitted to the lounges of foreign alliance carriers (such as Lufthansa's Senator lounges at US airports) even if traveling domestically.
Qualifying tiers by airline
|Member airline||Mileage program||Star Silver
LOT Polish Airlines
Swiss International Air Lines
|Miles & More||Frequent Traveller||Senator
|Air Canada||Aeroplan||Prestige 25K
Super Elite 100K
|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||Programa Amigo||Silver||Gold
|Ethiopian Airlines||Sheba Miles||Silver Club||Gold Club|
|EVA Air||Infinity MileageLands||Infinity MileageLands Silver||Infinity MileageLands Gold
Infinity MileageLands Diamond
|Singapore Airlines||KrisFlyer||Elite Silver||Elite Gold
Solitaire PPS Club
|South African Airways||Voyager||Silver||Gold
|TAP Portugal||Victoria||Silver Winner||Gold Winner|
|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 planes with the Star Alliance livery, usually featuring a white fuselage with "Star Alliance" signature written across and a black tailfin with the Star Alliance logo while the color or design of the engine cowlings or winglets remains depending on the members livery. Singapore Airlines is the only exception, formerly opting to paint the tails of the aircraft with the airline's logo; and now applying the Star Alliance logo sans the black tailfin painting, leaving it white. Asiana Airlines was the first Star Alliance member to paint their aircraft in the current Star Alliance livery.[dead link] Aircraft painted in their airline's regular livery have the Star Alliance logo painted on the aircraft between the cockpit and the first set of cabin doors. Currently, 80 aircraft are painted in the Star Alliance livery.
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Media related to Star Alliance at Wikimedia Commons