As the Star Alliance prepares to lose Brazil's Varig, its only Latin American member carrier, the group is staying quiet over plans for coverage in the area, and will not disclose whether it is looking to recruit a replacement airline.

Varig is to leave Star on 31 January because, as a result of its bankruptcy and the emergence of successor carrier VRG Linhas Aereas, it no longer meets membership criteria.

But Star is giving few details about contingency plans for Latin America. "To provide a worldwide network, improved coverage in Latin America is necessary," says the alliance. "But we cannot place a timeframe on this."

Star points out that neither of its rivals, SkyTeam or Oneworld, has a Brazilian member airline. Oneworld is represented in South America by Chile's LAN Airlines, while SkyTeam has Aeromexico and Panamanian associate member Copa Airlines. VRG Linhas Aereas is a potential candidate to fill the void left by Varig.

While Star says the alliance is "exploring various options", it is unable to state whether it has been in contact with other previously unallied airlines. Several large carriers in South America - including Brazil's TAM, Aerolineas Argentinas and Colombian airline Avianca - are not formal members of any of the major alliances.

Source: Flight International