Shenzhen Airlines is set to join the Star Alliance by end-2012, after the grouping's chief executive board approved the carrier's application.

The airline will be assisted in the joining process by its parent Air China, an existing Star Alliance member and currently the only Chinese airline in the grouping. Air China became the majority shareholder in Shenzhen Airlines last March after it grew its stake to 51% from 25%.

"Joining Star Alliance will help Shenzhen Airlines in its mission to build on its strength of a well-known national carrier, while implementing its strategy of establishing itself as a strong brand across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond," said Shenzhen Airlines president Feng Gang.

The addition of Shenzhen Airlines to the alliance will allow the grouping to expand its offering across mainland China and neighbouring countries, said Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht.

"Shenzhen Airlines is the fifth largest airline in China operating from the fifth busiest airport in the country. In conjunction with Air China, we will be growing our customer offer especially in the southern part of China," he added.

Air China will provide support and assistance to Shenzhen Airlines as it integrates itself into the alliance network by end-2012, said Air China chairman Kong Dong.

"Air China and Shenzhen Airlines will actively participate in alliance activities and initiatives, and work closely together with all member airlines to achieve win-win cooperation," he added.

With the addition of Shenzhen Airlines, the alliance's membership will grow to 27 existing and five future members. Shenzhen Airlines will add five new destinations to the Star Alliance network in China: Juzhou, Linyi, Qinhuangdao, Shijiazhuang and Zhoushan.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news