Lufthansa looking for Russian recruit to Star Alliance

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Lufthansa is conducting an in-depth analysis of the Russian airline industry in order to identify a suitable candidate to join the Star Alliance.

Speaking at a Moscow press briefing, Getz Amelmann, vice-president sales, said: "We would be glad to have a local partner. But it should maintain a high level of service and have an appropriate financial structure meeting our requirements."

Previously, Lufthansa had said it would consider inviting UTAir - which has its Moscow hub at Vnukovo airport - to join Star, prompting the Russian carrier to confirm that it recognises the benefits of alliance membership.

Lufthansa also this year switched some of its Moscow operations from Domodedovo airport to Vnukovo in two phases, moving its twice daily flights from Frankfurt in March and then its daily Berlin connection in June.

But Amelmann stresses that the relocation of those services was unrelated to the flag carrier's goal of identifying a Russian alliance partner. "The fact that we've moved some of them to Vnukovo does not mean that we only want to deal with UTAir," he says.

"There is no rush at all," Amelmann adds. "We continue collaborating with all local carriers in developing our Russian network and operations, which comprise around 150 scheduled rotations a week to eight cities."

Jens Bischof, Lufthansa board member and chief of revenue management, adds that the airline increased its traffic on routes to and from Russia by 5% to 1.5 million passengers in the first five months of this year.

The other two main airline alliances both count Russian carriers amongst their members. Aeroflot joined SkyTeam in 2006, with S7 Airlines admitted to Oneworld in 2010.