China's fast-growing Shanghai Airlines has increased links with the Star Alliance by signing a memorandum of understanding on co-operation with Lufthansa that is expected to lead to codesharing.

The memorandum was signed on 31 May between Star founding member Lufthansa and Shanghai Airlines, the second-largest carrier in Shanghai behind China Eastern Airlines. Shanghai Airlines has grown rapidly in international markets. It is also planning a domestic stock exchange listing this year to fund expansion plans.

The Star Alliance has been seeking a member in China for some time. Shanghai Airlines already has ties with Star carrier All Nippon Airways.

Lufthansa says the memorandum of understanding "reinforces the airlines' commitment in strengthening their co-operation in areas such as frequent-flier programmes, joint system development, the harmonisation of products and services, special pro-rate agreements, sales and marketing activities, as well as network connectivity". The partners add they will set out a framework to move towards a codesharing agreement.

Lufthansa and Shanghai Airlines have had an interline agreement since 1998. The German carrier has sought to expand its presence in China. It codeshares with Beijing-based Air China - considered Star's best prospect in the country. Lufthansa operates daily between Frankfurt and Shanghai, and thrice-weekly between Munich and Shanghai.

Source: Flight International