The global Star Alliance is moving to consolidate its presence in the Asia-Pacific region, with some small but critical bilateral co-operation agreements and approvals either being finalised or close to be being concluded.

Founding Star partner Lufthansa has announced a code-sharing agreement with Air New Zealand (ANZ) on routes from Frankfurt to Auckland and Christchurch, via Los Angeles and Singapore, respectively. Co-operation is set to expand further when ANZ joins Star in 1999.

Singapore Airlines (SIA), which has already concluded a bilateral alliance with Lufthansa, is understood to be negotiating a tie-up with a second Star partner, SAS. The deal, if finalised, would bring SIA a step closer to full alliance membership and could be followed by similar bilateral agreements with other major partner carriers, such as United Airlines.

The airline is believed to be considering whether to involve itself more fully with Star or remain independent. Meanwhile, it has received final approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for its proposed alliance with ANZ and Ansett Australia.

Ansett, which also wants to join Star and is already 50% owned by ANZ, is reportedly discussing integrating its engineering and maintenance operation with that of the New Zealand flag carrier.

Elsewhere in Asia, All Nippon Airways (ANA) is denying reports that it is discussing a network tie-up with SAS. ANA, like SIA, is wavering on becoming a full Star partner. It has already reached collaborative marketing and code-share agreements with United and Lufthansa and has a history of co-operation with SAS.

Source: Flight International