Andrzej Jeziorski/SINGAPORE

The Star Alliance's latest member, Singapore Airlines (SIA), has sent a senior management delegation to Bangkok to try to iron out much-publicised differences with neighbour and new ally Thai Airways International.

The meeting, set for 10 April, is also being attended by supervisory board members of leading Star member Lufthansa, whose role is being interpreted by some observers to be "honest broker" for the Asian neighbours.

Thai president Thamnoon Wanglee had previously criticised moves to bring SIA into Star, fearing it would lose revenue to its long-standing regional rival as Star passengers route via Singapore instead of Bangkok. "That is why Lufthansa is coming to the meeting, too," he says.

Thamnoon is trying to paint a more positive picture of SIA's membership. "If we have full co-operation, we can capture market share in the region and beyond. We can both capture market share. We are not leaving Star," he says.

The Thai president says the airlines will discuss "full co-operation in the commercial area, as well as traffic planning". Air fares would also be discussed as "a minor issue".

The airlines are seeking common ground as discussions continue about partial privatisation of the 93% state-owned carrier. Thamnoon says the government is committed to going ahead with the delayed privatisation this year.

The airline will request proposals from potential bidders in June, and shortlist potential strategic partners - which will compete for a 10% stake in Thai - in August.

An initial public offering of a further 13% of stock will be held in September, and the selection of the strategic partner will take place in December, says Thamnoon.

• Star is to launch what it says is the first airline-led e-commerce exchange for the industry. The exchange, open to non-Star carriers, will allow users to buy parts, services and supplies.

Source: Flight International