Snapshot: 1997, the first airline alliance

29 Apr 2016 by Valerian Ho

Valerian Ho looks back at the birth of Star Alliance

Star Alliance launching ceremony in 1997 - Thai Airways, United, Lufthansa, Air Canada and Scandinavian Airlines

In the mid-1990s, a group of like-minded airline CEOs predicted that growing globalisation would require carriers to offer a worldwide network to cope with the new demand.

They realised that a new form of co-operation had to be developed that would allow carriers to offer customers global travel without having to serve every destination themselves.

The chief executives were from Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways and United – the founding members of Star Alliance, launched in 1997.

The partnership meant passengers could receive all boarding passes for their entire journey at the first point of check-in, while baggage would be checked through to the final destination and transfers between airlines made as convenient as possible.

Loyalty programmes were also converged so that flyers could earn and burn miles throughout a single network.

Two years later, Oneworld became the second global airline alliance, with Skyteam following in 2000.

Star Alliance remains the largest of the three, with 28 member carriers connecting 1,300 airports in 192 countries (98 per cent of the world’s countries) with 18,500 daily departures.

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