Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab, speaking at CAPA's World Aviation Summit in Amsterdam, stated (26/27-Nov-2013) that following region-specific JVs, such as ones linking North America with Europe, and North America with Asia, airlines will next look to have global JVs and run their business the way other industries do: globally.
Star Alliance: global JVs are next
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Lufthansa and Etihad bedfellows - at last - but unions may make marriage a distant prospect
There can be no understating the symbolic change in mindset of Lufthansa agreeing to partner with Etihad. Lufthansa has spent the better part of a decade rallying against Gulf airlines to the press, lobbying in Europe's power corridors and seeking a range of aeropolitical measures to wind back new competitors. Etihad has been the prime target for its investment and ongoing top-ups in a range of European airlines including Lufthansa's home competitor, the failing airberlin. Despite that, it is not well known that the two have come close to a liaison before, suggesting that each sees an intrinsic logic in a relationship.
The partnership has potential to be more significant than Emirates-Qantas, Qatar-IAG or Etihad-AF-KLM. But for now it is limited in scope and caution should be exercised in extrapolating too far at this stage.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr is seeking new growth platforms that sidestep the flagship business' uncompromising unions who would seemingly prefer a status quo that exists only in memory. Their support will be necessary if the partnership is to work and grow. Then Lufthansa, which has rallied the Star Alliance and JV partners against Gulf airlines, will need to explain its change of heart. For now Lufthansa will not partner on Etihad's beyond-Abu Dhabi network, a move that would embrace the fundamental business plan of Etihad and peers. That upside remains a matter for speculation.
Star Alliance connecting partner model evolves as Juneyao Airlines replaces Mango as first member
Star Alliance's connecting partner model is evolving beyond a proposition for low cost airlines. In Oct-2016 Star disclosed its intention to add Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines. Although Juneyao is full service, the semantics of full service versus low cost have proven irrelevant: the core concept of Star's connecting partner platform is to secure transfer options in key markets. The Star benefits for a connecting partner are only realised when connecting on the same itinerary to a Star member. Unlike the situation with full membership, Star benefits are not offered on a connecting partner when the itinerary is only point-to-point.
Juneyao gives Star a partner in China's financial hub and replaces Star's former Shanghai partner, Shanghai Airlines, which left when it merged with SkyTeam's China Eastern. Juneyao is the second announced member after the South African Airways LCC Mango, but Juneyao will be implemented first in 2Q2017. As Juneyao grows and plans intercontinental 787 flights, the airline may transition to a full member.