Regional operator Thai Smile Airways is joining the Star Alliance as a connecting partner, adding 11 new destinations to the alliance’s global network.
The Thai Airways International subsidiary is expected to join Star by the end of 2019 and becomes the second connecting partner after Juneyao Airlines.
It has begun to implement the necessary technology and commercial links to allow it to start serving Star Alliance connecting passengers by 2020.
Star established the connecting partner program in 2016 to complement its membership model and requires commercial relationships with a minimum of three members.
Customers who transfer between a full Star member and a connecting partner are offered standard alliance benefits such as passenger and baggage through check-in and premium benefits for those who have Star Alliance Gold status.
These include priority check-in, lounge access and priority baggage delivery.
Thai Smile is a regional airline using a narrow-body fleet and is based at Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
It operates to 10 domestic destinations and also operates 17 international flights.
It joins an alliance that operates more than 19,000 flights to more than 1300 airports in 194 countries.
Star’s 28 members include United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, ANA, Asiana Airlines and Air Canada.
Thai Smile acting chief executive Charita Leelayudth said the connecting membership to contribute to and benefit the strong Star network.
At the same time, it would allow the airline to pursue its business model of providing a superior air travel experience at an affordable price.
Welcoming the new partnership, Star chief executive Geoffrey Goh said the move would further strengthen Star’s position “as the leading airline alliance network”.
“The partnership with our first Connecting Partner, Juneyao Airlines, has exceeded our mutual expectations and we look forward to providing our customers with even more choice through the addition of the Thai smile Airways offer,” he said.