afrol News, 1 October - Ethiopian Airlines is soon to join Star Alliance, the largest code-sharing alliance of international air carriers, it was announced yesterday. Ethiopian will be the third African airliner in the exclusive alliance.
The Star Alliance, a club of key air carriers centred around Germany's Lufthansa, for a long time was seen as an exclusive club where developing world players had no access. The "Africa Strategy" of the Alliance however had changed this.
Today, the Alliance's board announced it had "unanimously approved the application of Ethiopian Airlines to join Star Alliance." Ethiopian becomes the third African airliner to join the club, following South African Airways (SAA) and Egyptair.
In this exclusive club, Ethiopian Airlines among others joins Lufthansa, Air China, Brussels Airlines, Continental Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Spanair, Swiss, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, Thai and United.
The nowadays world-wide network, established in 1997, closely cooperates on booking, flight destinations, code sharing, schedules and technology. Passengers thus can book a connecting flight using several of the airliners as a single operation.
Ethiopian Airlines passengers therefore will connect to a world-wide network of flights and destinations, which they can book directly through their own airliner. More importantly, global passengers connect more easily to Ethiopian Airlines' flights through the Alliance, which could boost the Ethiopian company's bookings.
Equally important, the integration into the Star Alliance will give Ethiopian Airlines a major image lift as a responsible and trustworthy airliner. Global passengers still are sceptical towards African airliners on a general basis, and the Star Alliance membership may change prejudice-based attitudes towards Ethiopian Airlines.
Star Alliance made the announcement yesterday, saying Ethiopian Airlines would now go through a mentoring programme headed by Lufthansa to integrate the airliner's systems and routines with the Alliance's. The partners had an aim of "completing the membership process within the next 12 months."
"Ethiopian's extensive intra-African network will provide more choice for our travellers and bring the Star Alliance benefits to new markets. Moreover, we will in future have three main hubs in Africa - Addis Ababa, Cairo and Johannesburg - allowing for an ideal access to the continent from either the North, Centre-East or South," commented Jaan Albrecht, CEO of the Star Alliance.
Girma Wake, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, said the company was "happy and honoured to be invited to the big family of airlines." He promised the move would provide passengers with "more convenient flight schedules, greater flight frequencies, a larger network and more on-line connections."
Ethiopian Airlines will add five new countries - Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Mali and Niger - and 24 African destinations to the Star Alliance network, which will then encompass a total of 29 carriers.
This advance in Africa was part of a Star Alliance strategy, it was revealed. "Africa is forecast to have the second highest growth rate in air traffic over the coming years. Demand will mainly stem from economic growth made possible by increasing political stability and creating better business climate on the continent," the Alliance holds.
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