Juneyao Airlines becomes first Star Alliance Connecting Partner

Juneyao Airlines becomes first Star Alliance connecting partner

Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines has now joined Star Alliance as its first Connecting Partner.

The Connecting Partner programme was developed back in 2015, aimed at enabling the airline alliance to target regional and local carriers, as well as those with different business models. Essentially, it enables Star Alliance to plug some of the holes in its network using smaller carriers without requiring them to come on board as full members – the commitments of which may require excessive investment for some airlines to meet.

So what does this actually mean for travellers?

Firstly, it enables Star Alliance members to get a boarding pass across both their flights, whether connecting onto a Juneyao Airlines flight or from one to another Star Alliance carrier. Where government regulations permit, it will also enable baggage to be checked in all the way through without the need to reclaim and re-check it in while transiting.

According to Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh, Star Alliance Gold Members will also receive select privileges, including fast-track security, priority boarding and check-in, as well as lounge access. That said, these features and facilities are not universally available across Juneyao’s network – Shanghai Pudong Airport, for instance, doesn’t have a Star Alliance fast-track immigration line, and not all of Juneyao’s flights from Shanghai have priority boarding, even for premium passengers.

Most notably however, the connecting partnership means Star Alliance members can now get greater access to, from and through Shanghai – a major blind spot for the alliance following the loss of Shanghai Airlines after its acquisition by Skyteam member China Eastern Airlines in 2010, despite the presence of flag carrier Air China among its membership. For instance, Star Alliance now has a non-stop service between Shanghai (Pudong) and Hong Kong with Juneyao.

[Business Traveller will be publishing a review of Juneyao Airlines’ Shanghai-Hong Kong service soon]

“With Juneyao Airlines, it brings with it some 80 unique city pairs to the Star Alliance network, and on average some 270 additional flights every day,” said Star Alliance CEO, Jeffrey Goh. “For statistical purposes, this means that out of Shanghai, Star Alliance will have almost 500 flights per day to some 100 destinations out of Shanghai Hongqiao and Shanghai Pudong. This is a great opportunity for us to establish – or re-establish – our presence in Shanghai.

“When Shanghai Airlines left Star Alliance, we and Air China had the aspirations that Air China could perhaps step in and support more connectivity in Shanghai. But Pudong and Hongqiao airports are starved of slots, and that has been a haemorrhage on Air China’s spending in Shanghai. It’s not achieved the aspirations that were hoped for. As Juneyao became more prominent, it became an interesting proposition for us and the fact they happen to fly Shanghai to Hong Kong is a benefit for us, as well as the other multiple destinations in China. It’s allowed us to plug the gap that we thought we could solve within the alliance when Shanghai Airlines left.”

What the Connecting Partner programme with Juneyao doesn’t get Star Alliance members, however, is full earn and burn miles privileges across all other member airlines’ frequent flyer programmes (FFP). Currently, this is available to five of the alliance’s carriers – Air Canada, Air China, Eva Air, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. Expansion to other airlines’ FFPs is contingent on each carrier’s valuation of the benefits it would bring, and the decision to offer earning and redeeming privileges is up to each airline to come to an agreement with Juneyao.

As such, each Connecting Partner agreement will function differently. Specific benefits and FFP agreements will vary greatly according to each current member airline’s connectivity to Connecting Partners’ hubs, as well as the existing features and facilities future Connecting Partners have at their hubs.

As for future Connecting Partners, Goh said conversations are already well underway.

“Many airlines have approached us for potential partnerships, but we are very careful and selective as to who we add to the Connecting Partnership family,” said Goh. “We have a number of airlines we’re talking with but it would not be proper for me to disclose the details at this time, but we’ll be making announcements soon.”

Meanwhile for those Connecting Partners themselves, the initiative may pave the way for them for full membership to Star Alliance.

“We believe becoming a Connecting Partner is a preliminary step and in the future as our company continues to grow, I won’t rule out the possibility of officially joining Star Alliance,” said Juneyao Airlines chairman, Wang Junjin. “But now we are a Connecting Partner, I think that is very good experience for us. We will try to see if we can fit in [to Star Alliance], and we believe this is a very good model. In the future, if it’s necessary and beneficial to the network building of Star Alliance as well as our international strategy, I think it would be a correct thing to officially join Star Alliance.”

Juneyao Airlines is further aiming to expand its international network with the introduction next year of its first new B787-9 Dreamliner. While applications for specific routes for the aircraft have not yet been made, Juneyao currently has its eyes on Europe, the US and Australia, as well as other destinations along the Belt and Road forming what Junjin described as an “air bridge”.

For more information on Juneyao Airlines, see our article “Juneyao Airlines: What you need to know”.

juneyaoair.com.en; staralliance.com

Juneyao Airlines orders five Dreamliners

Juneyao Airlines B787-9 Dreamliner

Shanghai-based carrier Juneyao Airlines will be getting its first Boeing aircraft following the finalisation of an order for five B787-9 Dreamliners valued at US$1.32 billion. The new aircraft also constitute Juneyao’s first widebody aircraft order to date, which also includes an option for five additional Dreamliners.

The order comes as Juneyao looks to expand its long-haul network to destinations in North America, Europe and Australia by 2020. Speaking about the deal, the airline’s chairman Wang Junjin, said: “Our strategic vision is to develop into an international airline that provides high-quality service with an extended network, while ensuring excellent profitability. Today’s order is set to play a key role in our growing business in the years to come, and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Boeing into the future.”

The B787-9 Dreamliner offers improved fuel efficiency over older aircraft along with cabin features designed to enhance passenger comfort. These include dimmable higher humidity, lower cabin altitude and a smoother ride.

Juneyao is a relatively young airline, having begun operation in 2006. In October last year, it joined Star Alliance as a Connecting Partner with the agreement set to come into effect in the second quarter of this year. The carrier currently flies domestically and to short-haul international destinations in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.


Juneyao Airlines: What you need to know

Juneyao Airlines

Founded: Juneyao Airlines was founded in 2005 and began operations in September 2006 – the same year fellow Chinese carriers, Kunming-based Lucky Air and Chongqing-based China Express, were founded. Meanwhile in 2014, it launched its Guangzhou-based low-cost carrier subsidiary, 9air.

Home base: Based out of Shanghai, China, Juneyao operates from its two hubs in the city at Hongqiao International Airport and Pudong International Airport.

Fleet sizeAs of February 2017, Juneyao Airlines’ fleet comprises 61 aircraft, according to flightradar24.com. These include 41 Airbus A320s, 19 A321s and one A319. Its A320s offer 158 seats in a two-class configuration (eight business and 150 economy), while its A321s come in 190-seat and 198-seat two-class variants with 12 and eight seats in business class respectively.

In February 2017, the carrier finalised its first order with US-based manufacturer Boeing for five B787-9 Dreamliners, with options for five additional Dreamliners.

Route network: The Chinese carrier’s network currently comprises domestic and short-haul regional flights. These include: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Phuket in Thailand; Fukuoka, Nagoya, Okinawa, Osaka and Tokyo in Japan; Taipei and Kaohsiung in Taiwan; Jeju in South Korea; and Hong Kong and Macau.

Juneyao Airlines aims to expand its operations as an international airline. As of February 2017, it has plans to expand its international route network to include long-haul flights to destinations in North America, Europe and Australia.

Future plans: In October 2016, the airline announced it would be joining Star Alliance as a Connecting Partner, which is expected to come into effect in the second quarter of 2017.