Continental and United Airlines made it official today. Continental is going to join the Star Alliance.
Funny, but the week after the United/US Airways merger died, I told readers of PBB that I believed we’d hear shortly that Continental was going to join Star. I had quite a few subscribers write me and debate the issue pretty heavily.
But more important than the Star link-up, Continental and United also announced the long-rumored new “partnership” between the two airlines. The deal is a bit different, depending on whether you are looking overseas, or at the two airlines domestically.
Internationally, Continental says that it is going to seek antitrust immunity from the DOT to form joint ventures on trans-Atlantic flying with United and Lufthansa, and eventually on flights to Latin America and Asia.
But domestically, the “partnership” will be limited to codesharing between the two airlines.
Where does this leave US Airways, which is still a member of Star?
According to a message that the airline sent out to employees, it doesn’t change anything.
“Q. Does this change our codeshare relationship with UA?
A. No. As part of the process to invite CO into Star Alliance, we reaffirmed our relationship with UA and our position in Star Alliance. The US-UA codeshare program will remain one of the largest codeshare programs in the industry.
Q. Isn’t Star Alliance already the largest global airline alliance? Why do we need another North American member?
A. Each member of the alliance brings unique value. The CO route network brings new destinations and additional service in important markets that have limited service by current Star Alliance member carriers. CO customers will gain access to additional services not available to them today, including airport lounge and frequent flyer benefits.
Q. Will US reduce flying as a result of United’s new relationship with CO?
A. No, today’s announcement will have no impact on the level of US operations. Codeshare programs, frequent flyer cooperation and other aspects of an airline alliance help to increase the number of passengers US Airways carries.
Of course the next question would be — does this mean that Continental Airlines and US Airways could enter into a potential codesharing agreement?
According to the US Airways internal missive, “We haven’t had discussions yet on a possible codeshare or potential bilateral relationship with Continental.”
Ticker: (Nasdaq:UAUA);(NYSE:CAL); (NYSE:LCC)
Technorati Tags: airlines, Continental Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways