Members of the Star Alliance that have regulatory approval for an immunized transatlantic joint venture are aiming to debut the new scheme in early 2010.

Star members Air Canada, Continental Airlines, Lufthansa and United secured approval from US regulators earlier this year to establish the joint venture.

Today during a ceremony at Newark airport to mark Continental's official entry into Star, Air Canada VP alliances and international Yves Dufresne told ATI the carriers expect to launch the joint venture early next year, and are eager to compete with Delta, Air France and KLM, who finalized their immunized agreement on 20 May. That JV covers roughly 25% of total transatlantic capacity, and previously the participants have said that each carrier should yield roughly $150 million in synergies from the cost and revenue sharing deal.

Continental's participation in Star gives the alliance key positioning in the competitive New York market. Star believes it now will move from being the third largest alliance in the New York City area to the largest.

Star estimates it now offers almost 70,000 daily seats from New York City, which is 78% more than SkyTeam, now the second largest airline alliance in the market in terms of seat share.

Fellow Star members are also welcoming Continental's reach in other regions. Dufresne believes Continental's addition to Star allows Air Canada to broaden its reach in Central and Mexico, and expand access beyond resort destinations such as Cancun.

Air Canada plans to launch flights from Montreal to Houston on 30 June to utilise Continental's Houston hub for connections to Central and South America.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news