Continental Airlines is to swap Skyteam for Star Alliance, as it steps up its partnership with founder member United Airlines.
Integration into Star is expected to take around a year, when it will join the likes of Lufthansa, Bmi, Swiss, Air New Zealand and United in the alliance. During this time the carrier will terminate existing agreements with Skyteam “in a customer friendly manner”.
The move is part of the carrier’s framework agreement with United to link networks and services worldwide, co-operating on everything from domestic and international codeshares, to frequent flier programmes and lounge facilities.
Continental is also seeking Antitrust immunity (similar to that recently granted to four Skyteam members – see online news June 3) to allow it to establish transatlantic joint venture partnerships with United, Lufthansa, Air Canada and six other Star Alliance members. Says Larry Kellner, chairman and CEO of Continental:
“In a network business, there is significant value gained from linking with larger networks to provide truly national coverage and expanded global reach, and exploring new ways to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. As we experience some of the most challenging conditions airlines have ever faced, we look forward to the benefits of a new relationship with United and the other Star Alliance members.”
The news marks a busy period for Star Alliance, with Turkish Airlines joining the fold in April (see online news April 3), and Egyptair readying itself to join next month.
Report by Mark Caswell