Star Alliance sees minimal impact from US Airways loss

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The Star Alliance believes that there will be minimal impact on its network from member US Airways' plans to merge with Oneworld carrier American Airlines.

Under the plan announced in February, the two airlines would come together under the American brand and retain its Oneworld membership.

The merger is still subject to court and regulatory approvals, but both carriers are working towards completing it during the third quarter of 2013. Once completed, the new American will overtake United Airlines as the largest carrier in the world.

Star chief executive Mark Schwab says that the decision to join Oneworld is understandable as United is a cornerstone member of Star.

"You can imagine that it would be very difficult to convince the competition authorities to allow the two largest airlines in the world to operate in the same global alliance," he says.

US Airways, which joined Star in May 2004, represents approximately 9% of the total capacity of the alliance, although there is significant overlap with United and fellow Star carrier Air Canada.

However, Star will lose some smaller towns and cities on the US east coast from its network post-merger. Schwab says that most of them have a population of between 100,000 and 200,000, and are legacies from when US Airways was based in Washington DC.

"We would love to have them on our route map, but in terms of the global network, it isn't a huge loss," he adds.

While the two carriers await approval for the merger, Schwab says that US Airways has indicated that, for now, it remains committed to Star.

"They have to go through a regulatory process, so they keep reminding us that they are a member of Star until such time as the merger gets approved and they have various steps to go through over the next few months," he says.