Star Alliance CEO: we don't need a Middle East partner

By David Flynn, February 6 2014
Star Alliance CEO: we don't need a Middle East partner

Star Alliance says it doesn't need a partner airline from the Middle East, and is instead focussed on finding new members in Russia and Latin America.

Alliance CEO Mark Schwab maintains that his network "does not have a gap" in the Middle East region thanks to current members Egyptair and Turkish Airlines.

Read: Turkish Airlines pushes back planned Australian flights

However, in an interview with Travel Daily, Schwab admitted that "there is one large geographical area that there is still a gap in and that is in Russia".

"Star Alliance has no home carrier there yet as that has its own infrastructure and consolidation issues and we don’t have a resolution to that yet," he added.

Russia's largest airline by passenger numbers, S7, is a member of competing alliance Oneworld while de facto flag carrier Aeroflot is aligned with SkyTeam.

In Latin America, current Star Alliance member TAM will decamp to Oneworld on March 31st as part of its merger with Chilean sibling LAN and LAN Columbia.

Read: Oneworld's 2014 triple play: US Airways, TAM, SriLankan signing up

However, Star hopes its recent signing of  Columbia's Avianca and later this year sibling Avianca Brazil will maintain the balance.

Star has almost no prospects with the 'big three' Gulf airliners: Qatar signed up to Oneworld last year while Emirates and Etihad remain happily independent and often outspokenly pessimistic about the role of alliances.

Emirates has of course formed its own partnership with Qantas while Etihad is busy weaving a 'fourth alliance' of partner airlines including Virgin Australia, Airberlin, Ireland's Aer Lingus, India's Jet Airways and potentially Alitalia.

High on Schwab's to-do list right now remains shepherding Air India back into the fold, after the airline's previous application to join the Star family was suspended in July 2011.

"We still have some work to do but I don’t see any barriers," said Schwab, who last month predicted that Air India could take its seat at the table as early as June this year.

"Without giving a specific date, one can say that we will complete all the ground work and formalities of Air India’s entry into the Star Alliance club by this summer" Schwab told journalists during a press briefing in Mumbai. "After that, they will be ready to join straight away."

Read: Air India to join Star Alliance in June?

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2213

Their press to get some Indian-based action seems logical. After all, their European presence is hubbed as far east as IST/Istanbul - close enough to cover a lot of the Middle East traffic westbound one-stop to Europe and America.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1250

Its more a case of Star not having any middle east partners, rather than not needing them. Egypt air? No thanks... and now that TK and star heavy weight  LH have had a falling out, that makes an IST hub less effective. If the big 3 middle east airlines keep growing, star could start losing relevance useless they start working better together. Would be interesting if EK & LH ever do a deal. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1252

Agreed. They can't have a ME partner even if they wanted or needed to.

10 Feb 2014

Total posts 1

To substitute TAM by Avianca is just a joke. TAM flys to most of the main airports in Brazil and Avianca to secondary ones and just a few main ones. The network doesn't have comparison. 

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

They do have 2 passenger subsidiaries, 1 helicopter subsidiary and 80+ destinations, so while it may be a joke, it's not that much of a downgrade.

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

Star might be happy with Moskovia Airlines, a small international carrier that would definitely be able to rely on an alliance. Go 3R and Star!

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