Star Alliance

Star Alliance
Logo of Star Alliance.svg
Launch date14 May 1997; 25 years ago (1997-05-14)
Full members26
Non-voting members40 affiliates
Pending members0
Destination airports1,294[1]
Destination countries195[2]
Annual passengers (M)762[2]
Annual RPK (G)1,739[1]
Fleet size5,033[1]
HeadquartersFrankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany[3]
ManagementJeffrey Goh, CEO[4]
Scott Kirby, Chairman[5]
Alliance sloganThe Way the Earth Connects.

Star Alliance is the world's largest global airline alliance.[2] Founded on 14 May 1997, its headquarters are located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany,[3] and Jeffrey Goh is its CEO.[4][6] As of April 2018, Star Alliance is the largest of the three global alliances by passenger count with 762.27 million, ahead of both SkyTeam (630 million) and Oneworld (528 million).[7][8] Its slogan is "The Way the Earth Connects".

Star Alliance's 26 member airlines operate a fleet of approximately 5,033 aircraft, serving more than 1,290 airports in 195 countries on more than 19,000 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-locations), and many member planes are painted in the alliance's livery. It is known for partnering with flagship airlines of almost every country in the world.


1997–1999: First alliance

"The Star Alliance is Born" – airliners of the five founding members (United Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways International, Air Canada and Lufthansa) of the alliance gathered together, May 1997.
Four United Airlines planes at San Francisco International Airport. One is painted in the Star Alliance special livery.

On May 14, 1997, an agreement was announced forming the Star Alliance with five airlines on three continents: United Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways International, Air Canada, and Lufthansa.[9][10] The alliance chose Young & Rubicam for advertising, with a budget of $25 million (€18 million).[11] 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",[9] with its goal "an alliance that will take passengers to every major city on earth".[10]


The now defunct Brazilian airline VARIG joined the Star Alliance network[9][12] 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.[13] 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.[14][15]

2000–2006: Expansion

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[16][17] and Singapore Airlines on 1 April.[18] BMI (British Midland) and Mexicana joined on 1 July, bringing the alliance's membership to 13.[19] With Singapore Airlines' entry into the alliance, Thai Airways considered moving to OneWorld, but eventually decided to remain.[20] 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.[21] That year the now-defunct BWIA West Indies Airways, which had entered an alliance with United Airlines, considered becoming a member but did not.[22] 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.[23] 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.[23]

Partner airlines promoted Star Alliance brand with a ‘Round the World’ ticket (RWT) that offered choice of 19,000, 21,000, and 23,000 miles with stopover of 15 cities valid for one year. RWT was path-breaking in that travel buffs could visit destinations of their choice by charting a yearlong itinerary without disrupting work commitments. Until then tourists took annual vacation of two or three weeks, often settling for lesser-known destinations because flights were overbooked during peak holiday season. Customer loyalty ratings went up, driven by the underlying message - Forget about the countries and cities. Go where RWT ticket takes you![24]

Asiana Airlines joined the alliance on 1 March 2003,[25] Spanair on 1 May,[26] and LOT Polish Airlines (Poland's flag carrier) in October.[27] Around this time, Mexicana Airlines left the alliance after deciding not to renew a codeshare agreement with United Airlines, later joining Oneworld.[23] US Airways joined the alliance in May 2004,[28] becoming its second US-based airline. In November Adria Airways, Blue1 and Croatia Airlines joined the alliance as its first three regional members.[29]

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.[30][31] 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.[32]

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.[33][34]

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.

— Jaan Albrecht, former Star Alliance CEO[35]

VARIG left the alliance on 31 January 2007,[36] and the two Chinese airlines, Air China and Shanghai Airlines, joined on 12 December.[37]

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 20th member.[38] EgyptAir, Egypt's national airline and Star Alliance's second African carrier, joined on 11 July 2008.[39]

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 rumoured that the switch was Continental's first move in a planned merger with United Airlines.[40] Two months later, Brussels Airlines joined the alliance.[41]

Brazilian carrier TAM Airlines joined Star Alliance on 13 May 2010,[42] increasing its foothold in South America.[43] Aegean Airlines, Greece's largest airline by number of passengers, joined on 30 June.[44]

Shanghai Airlines left the alliance on 31 October 2010 when it merged with China Eastern Airlines, a SkyTeam member.[45] On 29 September, the chief executive board approved Ethiopian Airlines as Star Alliance's 30th member, though Ethiopian did not officially join the alliance until December of the following year.[46][47] In 2010 the alliance flew to 1,172 airports in 181 countries, with about 21,200 daily departures.[46]

2011–present: further expansion and stability

Four members of Star Alliance at Tokyo Narita Airport: Thai, United, Swiss and SAS

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.[48]

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.[49][50] In North America, Continental merged with United Airlines, reducing Star's membership further, even if it effectively stayed in the alliance after the merger.[51] On 21 June, though, Avianca, TACA Airlines and Copa Airlines joined, massively increasing the alliance's Latin American presence.[52] In November, Blue1 left after becoming an affiliate of parent Scandinavian Airlines.[53] and Shenzhen Airlines joined, augmenting Air China's Chinese network.[54] 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.[55][56] On 13 December, Air India was again invited to begin an integration process with Star Alliance and joined the alliance on 11 July 2014.[57]

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.[58] Next, US Airways completed its merger with American Airlines and also left the alliance.[59] 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.[60][61][62][63]

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 Brasil joined in this way on 22 July 2015, bringing the alliance back into the Brazilian market and partially filling the void left by TAM.[64] South African Airways' low-cost subsidiary, Mango, was initially announced to join as a Connecting Partner in Q3 2016[65] but has since been delayed. Juneyao Airlines, which codeshares with Shenzhen Airlines, joined as a Connecting Partner on 23 May 2017.[66][67][68] Thai Smile, subsidiary of Thai Airways, joined as a Connecting Partner in February 2020.[69] On 20 August 2019, Star Alliance announced affiliate member Avianca Brasil's exit from the alliance from 1 September 2019. The departure, however, won't affect Avianca's membership.[70][71] On 30 September 2019, Adria Airways ceased operations, and the airline exited the alliance on 2 October 2019.[72]

On 16 November 2020, Asiana Airlines announce their plans to exit the alliance.[73] Asiana will merge with Korean Air, the Korean Government confirmed, in a $1.6 billion acquisition by the SkyTeam member.[74]

In 2022, Lufthansa announced plans to buy 40% stake in ITA Airways, a SkyTeam member. If this goes through, then the latter can become a member of Star Alliance.[75][76]

Member airlines and affiliates

Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways International and United Airlines are the five founding members of the alliance.

Members and affiliates

Member Joined Member Affiliates
Greece Aegean Airlines[77] 30 June 2010 Olympic Air[E]
Canada Air Canada[A][77] 14 May 1997 Air Canada Express[B]
Air Canada Rouge
China Air China[77] 12 December 2007 Air China Inner Mongolia

Beijing Airlines

Dalian Airlines

India Air India[77] 11 July 2014 Air India Express
New Zealand Air New Zealand[77] 3 May 1999
Japan All Nippon Airways[77] 15 October 1999 ANA Wings
South Korea Asiana Airlines[77] 28 March 2003
Austria Austrian Airlines[77] 26 March 2000
Colombia Avianca[77] 21 June 2012 Avianca Costa Rica
Avianca Ecuador
Avianca El Salvador
Avianca Express
Avianca Guatemala
Belgium Brussels Airlines[77] 9 December 2009
Panama Copa Airlines[77] 21 June 2012 Copa Airlines Colombia
Croatia Croatia Airlines[77] 18 November 2004
Egypt Egyptair[77] 11 July 2008
Ethiopia Ethiopian Airlines[77] 13 December 2011
Taiwan EVA Air[77] 18 June 2013 UNI Air[E]
Poland LOT Polish Airlines[77] 26 October 2003
Germany Lufthansa[A][77] 14 May 1997 Air Dolomiti[E]
Lufthansa CityLine
Norway Scandinavian Airlines[A][77]
14 May 1997 Scandinavian Airlines Connect
China Shenzhen Airlines[77][F] 29 November 2012
Singapore Singapore Airlines[77] 1 April 2000
South Africa South African Airways[77] 10 April 2006 Mango
Switzerland Swiss International Air Lines[77] 1 April 2006 Edelweiss Air
Portugal TAP Air Portugal[77] 14 March 2005 TAP Express[C]
Thailand Thai Airways International[A][77] 14 May 1997 Thai Smile
Turkey Turkish Airlines[77] 1 April 2008 AnadoluJet[E]
United States United Airlines[A][77] 14 May 1997 United Express[D]

A Founding member.
B Air Canada Express flights are operated by[78] Jazz Aviation.
C TAP Express flights are operated by Portugália Airlines and White Airways.
D United Express flights are operated by Air Wisconsin, CommutAir, GoJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, Republic Airways, and SkyWest Airlines.
E Olympic Air, UNI Air, Air Dolomiti, and AnadoluJet are wholly owned regional subsidiaries that operate flights for their parent company under a different name.
F Majority owned by Air China.

Star Alliance is located in Earth
Star Alliance members hubs

Connecting Partners

Connecting Partner Joined Affiliates
China Juneyao Air[66] 23 May 2017
Thailand Thai Smile[A][69] 25 February 2020

A As a subsidiary of Thai Airways International, Thai Smile was originally as an affiliate member, but it transferred as Connecting Partners since 2020.[citation needed]

Intermodal partners

Starting from August 2022, the German railway provider Deutsche Bahn will be the first intermodal partner of the Star Alliance, whose airlines will in future be able to assign their own flight numbers for trains.

Former members

Former member Joined Exited Affiliates Notes
Slovenia Adria Airways 18 November 2004 30 September 2019

Darwin Airline

Ceased operations on 30 September 2019.
Australia Ansett Australia 3 May 1999 12 September 2001 Aeropelican Air Services
Hazelton Airlines
Kendell Airlines
Skywest Airlines
Left the alliance on 12 September 2001 after suffering financial collapse.[79] Ansett resumed operations on 1 October 2001, but would permanently cease operations on 4 March 2002. In 2002, Hazelton and Kendell merged to become Regional Express Airlines.
Brazil Avianca Brasil 22 July 2015 31 August 2019 Ceased operations on 31 August 2019.
Finland Blue1 3 November 2004 1 November 2012 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.[53][80]
United Kingdom British Midland International 1 July 2000 20 April 2012 BMI Regional
Merged into British Airways, an International Airlines Group division and a Oneworld member, on 20 April 2012.[49]
United States Continental Airlines 27 October 2009 3 March 2012 Continental Connection
Continental Express
Continental Micronesia
Merged with United Airlines on 3 March 2012.[81]
Mexico 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. Ceased operations on 28 August 2010.[82]
China Shanghai Airlines 12 December 2007 31 October 2010 China United Airlines Acquired by China Eastern Airlines, a SkyTeam member, on 31 October 2010.[83]
Spain Spanair 1 May 2003 27 January 2012 AeBal Ceased operations on 27 January 2012.[84]
El Salvador TACA Airlines 21 June 2012 27 May 2013 TACA Regional Merged with Avianca on 27 May 2013; renamed Avianca El Salvador.
Brazil TAM Airlines 13 May 2010 30 March 2014 TAM Paraguay Merged with LAN Airlines, a Oneworld member, on 30 March 2014.
United States US Airways 4 May 2004 30 March 2014 US Airways Express
US Airways Shuttle
Merged with American Airlines, a Oneworld member, on 30 March 2014.[85]
Brazil VARIG 22 October 1997 31 January 2007 Nordeste
Rio Sul
Ceased operations on 20 July 2006.[36]

Former affiliates of current members

Former affiliate Joined Left Affiliate of Notes
Air BC
Air Canada Now known as Air Canada Express, a subsidiary of Air Canada.[86]
Air Canada Tango
Air Canada Now part of Air Canada.[87]
Air Nelson
Air New Zealand Now part of Air New Zealand.
Air Nova
Air Canada Now known as Air Canada Express, a subsidiary of Air Canada.[86]
Air Next
All Nippon Airways Now part of ANA Wings, a subsidiary of ANA.[88]
Air Nippon
All Nippon Airways Merged with ANA Wings.[88]
Air Ontario
Air Canada Now known as Air Canada Express, a subsidiary of Air Canada.[86]
Alliance Air
Air India Formerly Air India Regional. From 15 April 2022, no longer a part of Air India after its divestment and will be run as an independent Business unit under the Government of India. Thus no longer a member of Star Alliance.
Avianca Perú
Avianca Ceased operations when Avianca filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.[89]
Scandinavian Airlines Now part of Cityjet after ceasing operations.[53][80]
LOT Polish Airlines Now part of LOT Polish Airlines, ceased operations.[90]
Cyprus Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines Now part of Turkish Airlines after going bankrupt.[91]
EgyptAir Express
EgyptAir Merged with EgyptAir.
Korongo Airlines
Brussels Airlines Now part of Brussels Airlines after not gaining enough traction.[92]
Lauda Air
Austrian Airlines Replaced by Austrian Airlines operations, now known as Austrian myHoliday.[93]
Lufthansa Italia
Lufthansa Now part of Lufthansa.[94]
Mount Cook Airlines
Air New Zealand Now part of Air New Zealand.
United Shuttle
United Airlines Became part of United Airlines.[95]
South African Express
South African Airways Absorbed into South African Airways.
Swiss Global Air Lines
Swiss International Air Lines Operations now folded into Swiss International Air Lines after being dissolved.
Swiss Private Aviation
Swiss International Air Lines Absorbed into Swiss International Air Lines.[96]
Singapore Airlines Merged with Scoot under Scoot brand.[97]
Tyrolean Airways
Austrian Airlines Now part of Austrian Airlines.[98]
Air Canada Absorbed into Air Canada.[99]
United Airlines Became part of United Airlines.[100]

Customer service

Codeshare flights of Star Alliance airlines are consistent. This cooperation led to suspicions of anti-competitive behaviour; 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.[101]

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".[102]

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 kilometres (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.


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 about airport lounge access. Membership is based on the frequent-flyer programs of the individual airlines. Many members have a premium status with their individual airline program that goes beyond Gold, however these levels are all grouped together as Gold status when being recognized by Star Alliance overall.[102]

Star Alliance Silver

Silver Status recognizes that customers having shown loyalty to Star Alliance member airlines and earns them two privileges that can make their journeys smoother. This includes priority reservations waitlist and priority airport stand-by.[103][citation needed]

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 waitlist, airport stand-by, 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
(qualifying tiers)
Star Gold
(qualifying tiers)
Austrian Airlines
Brussels Airlines
Croatia Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines
Swiss International Air Lines
Miles & More Frequent Traveller Senator
HON Circle
Aegean Airlines Miles+Bonus Silver Gold
Air Canada Aeroplan[104] 25K
Super Elite 100K
Air China
Shenzhen Airlines
PhoenixMiles Silver Gold
Air India Flying Returns Silver Edge Club Golden Edge Club
The Maharajah Club[105]
Air New Zealand Airpoints Silver Gold
All Nippon Airways ANA Mileage Club Bronze Super Flyers
Asiana Airlines Asiana Club Gold Diamond
Diamond Plus
Avianca LifeMiles Silver Gold
Copa Airlines ConnectMiles Silver Gold
Presidential Platium
Egyptair EgyptAir Plus Silver Gold
Ethiopian Airlines ShebaMiles Silver Gold
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
PPS Club
Solitaire PPS Club
South African Airways Voyager Silver Gold
TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go Silver Gold
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus Silver Gold


Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Classic Plus Elite
Elite Plus
United Airlines MileagePlus Premier Silver Premier Gold
Premier Platinum
Premier 1K
Global Services

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 colour or design of the engine cowlings or winglets remains, depending on the member's livery. Singapore Airlines is the only exception, formerly keeping its 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.[106] 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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External links

Media related to Star Alliance at Wikimedia Commons

  • Official website
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