Thai Airways subsidiary Thai Smile will become Star Alliance’s second connecting partner by the end of the year, joining Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines.
The airline will add another 11 unique destinations to the alliance network. Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows that Thai Smile flies 20 Airbus A320s to 26 destinations in Asia. Its parent Thai Airways was founding member of Star more than 20 years ago.
Speaking during a media briefing at the IATA annual general meeting in Seoul today, Star Alliance chief executive Jeffrey Goh also said the alliance was “not closed to…having new members”, even as it shifts its strategy to bettering customer experiences.
“[We] have to have [a] value proposition from the airline that wants to be part to be part of the Star Alliance,” Goh says.
“In this case, we are convinced [that Thai Smile adds value], both in dollar value and customer experience,” he adds.
Thai Smile’s induction comes as the alliance has been looking to tweak its connecting partner model.
“We took some time since the model was rolled out, to understand more clearly what is the audience of this model, what is the content of the model, and what is the problem we are trying to solve,” Goh says.
In an interview with FlightGlobal in November 2018, Goh says that the alliance was working to add new airlines to the connecting partner model.
Connecting partners only need to have commercial agreements — like interline or codeshare agreements — with at least three member carriers. The connecting partner model was established in 2016 to complement its membership model.