Star Alliance announced that it will be expanding its presence in Latin America following the unanimous approval by its Chief Executive Board (CEB), to accept both Avianca-TACA and Copa Airlines as future member airlines.
"On behalf of the Chief Executive Board, it gives me great pleasure to invite Avianca-TACA and Copa Airlines to join the Star Alliance network. The addition of these two quality airline groups concludes a strategic process which increases the Alliance’s footprint in the vibrant, growing economies of Latin America," Jaan Albrecht, CEO Star Alliance said. "The aviation landscape in this region is changing rapidly and alliances are playing an ever bigger role as Latin America continues to develop."
The combined network of the two airline groups gives Star Alliance a more prominent footprint in Central America, the Caribbean and the northern and western regions of South America, as well as additional direct connections between Latin America and cities in Europe. Star Alliance passengers will in the future have access to a large range of new destinations and flights connecting through the Copa Airlines hubs in Panama City (Panama) and Bogota (Colombia) and the Avianca-TACA hubs in Bogota (Colombia), San Salvador (El Salvador), Lima (Peru) and San Jose (Costa Rica).
The addition of the two carrier groups is the culmination of a strategic process to extend Star Alliance’s reach in Latin America. This began with the addition of Continental Airlines just over a year ago, improving connections between North America and Central and South America. Further network expansion and improved connectivity to, from and within South America was made possible by the joining of TAM Airlines in May.
Avianca-TACA and Copa Airlines will bring 46 new destinations to the Star Alliance network. Once integration is complete, the customers of the 31 alliance members will have access to more than 22,500 daily flights serving 1,292 destinations in 188 countries.
Avianca-TACA serves more than 100 destinations around the world, operating a fleet of more than 150 modern short, medium and long range aircraft. The carrier group directly employs almost 12,000 people and has more than three million members in its loyalty program. Avianca and TACA, which each consolidate several smaller Latin American carriers, agreed to a strategic merger in October 2009, creating a combined network focusing on North, Central and South America, the Caribbean and cities in Europe. TACA’s initial request for Star Alliance membership dates back to 2008.
The two airlines of Copa Holdings – Copa Airlines and Copa Airlines Colombia – serve 52 destinations in 25 countries. The group recently strengthened its presence in Colombia, by rebranding Aero Republica to Copa Airlines Colombia. Copa Airlines’ Hub of the Americas at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama, is Latin America’s leading hub, with major traffic from the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Copa’s entrance into Star Alliance reinforces its 12-year-old alliance with United-Continental. Copa left Skyteam in October 2009.
The integration teams from Star Alliance, Avianca-TACA, Copa Airlines and the respective mentor carriers, Lufthansa and Continental, will now begin their work in order to achieve integration of both airline groups by mid 2012.