Shenzhen Airlines has become the 27th member of Star Alliance and the second Chinese carrier in the alliance's network.

The carrier's formal membership comes after 16 months of integration work, helped by its sponsor and parent Air China.

Shenzhen Airlines, which has bases in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, will add five new Chinese destinations - Juzhou, Linyi, Qinhuangdao, Shijiazhuang and Zhoushan to Star Alliance's network.

"Shenzhen Airlines is China's fifth largest carrier and strengthens the Star Alliance presence in China and across Asia. Our customers now benefit from improved access throughout the economically important Pearl River Delta and across southern china," said Star Alliance chief executive Mark Schwab at the carrier's full membership announcement ceremony in Shenzhen.

"We know that today no single airline alone can tend to the needs of the international traveller," says Shenzhen Airlines president Feng Gang. "By joining Star Alliance, we can now offer our customers global reach, while at the same time placing Shenzhen firmly on the map of worldwide air travel."

Shenzhen Airlines operates a fleet of 116 narrowbodies, with plans to grow this to 170 aircraft by 2015.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news