Colombian airline Avianca-TACA and Panamanian carrier Copa Airlines are to join Star Alliance by mid-2012.
The two airlines will be the second and third Latin American members of the alliance, with TAM Brazilian Airlines having joined earlier this year (see online news May 13).
Avianca-TACA is the largest airline in Colombia, formed by a strategic merger of the Avianca and TACA brands last year, and has hubs in other Latin American cities including San Salvador, Lima and San José. The carrier first applied to join Star Alliance back in 2008, and will be mentored during the integration process by founder Star Alliance member Lufthansa.
Copa Airlines was a member of Skyteam until last year, when it left following close partner and former owner Continental’s decision to leave Skyteam (see online news May 27, 2009). Continental went on to join Star Alliance in October last year, but it was unclear until now whether Copa would follow suit. Unsurprisingly the carrier will be mentored during the integration process by Continental.
The two new members will add 46 new destinations to the Star Alliance network, and will bring the total number of airlines within the alliance to 31, with Ethiopian Airlines also due to join the fold in the next twelve months (see online news September 29).
Report by Mark Caswell