Turkish Airlines, new star of Star Alliance

In a move expected to impact the international aviation sector, Turkey’s flagship carrier, Turkish Airlines, has taken a step towards integration in the Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline network.

A protocol agreement envisaging Turkish Airlines’ membership in Star Alliance was signed by both parties in a ceremony at the Ceylan International Hotel on 9 December. Attending the ceremony were Turkish Airlines’ Board Chairman Dr. Candan Karlıtekin and President Temel Kotil, Ph. D., Star Alliance’s CEO Jaan Albrecht, and CEOs of other Star Alliance member airlines.

Founded in 1997, Star Alliance has the distinction of being the first truly global airline network, able to offer its customers worldwide connections and a smooth travel experience. Star Alliance was voted the ‘Best Airline Alliance’ by Skytrax in 2003 and 2005, and by Business Traveller (UK) Magazine in 2003 and 2006. Member airlines include Air Canada, Air New Zealand, ANA Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, bmi, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, THAI, United, US Airways, and VARIG Brazilian Airlines. Star Alliance’s regional carriers are Adria Airways, Blue1 and Croatia Airlines. Besides Turkish Airlines, other candidates for membership are Air China and Shangai.
Star Alliance offers over 16,000 daily flights to 841 airports in 157 countries. In other words, a Star Alliance member flight takes off or lands every three seconds. Alliance members work together on cost-saving joint purchases, fuel strategy, fleet coordination and knowhow and technology projects.

The process of full integration leading to Turkish Airlines’ membership in Star Alliance is expected to be completed within 16 months. During this period, Turkish Airlines will work out a joint schedule with all the major member airlines such as Lufthansa, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines in order to coordinate flights and thereby reduce waiting times for passengers. Passengers will be able to fly to 927 cities in 162 countries on a single ticket. Benefits at check-in, joint ticketing and check-in and baggage facilities together with coordination between the major airlines will create a smoother travel experience for Turkish Airlines passengers. Thanks to its comprehensive network, Star Alliance member carriers are able to offer passengers great value via a wide variety of airpasses and special fares including Round the World Fare, Circle Asia Fare, Circle Pacific Fare and the Asian, European, Japan, North American, South Pacific, Thailand and African Airpasses.

Star Alliance special flyer programs also offer a variety of advantages. Members of any Star Alliance frequent flyer program (FFP) can collect and redeem miles, kilometers or points on any member carrier. Accrued mileage also counts towards higher status in the customer’s selected FFP. Star Alliance Gold and Star Alliance Silver members are recognized as valuable customers whenever they travel on a Star Alliance member airline and are entitled to the following benefits:
Star Alliance Gold Members can make use of dedicated check-in counters and have access to 660 lounges at airports around the world.
Star Alliance Gold and Star Alliance Silver Card members receive priority standby listing if they arrive at the airport without any reservations for a specific flight. Moreover, a customer holding a full-fare ticket on one Star Alliance member airline may rebook on another.
Star Alliance Gold Card members are entitled to priority baggage service across the network; and to one additional piece of checked baggage, or an additional 20 kilos of weight.
Star Alliance also has a Conventions Plus Program that entitles fair organizers to travel incentives and other support.

Turkish Airlines’ membership in the Star Alliance is also going to be a great boon for Istanbul, which will become a bridge between Europe and Asia and one of the world’s major aviation centers. Linking the legs of so many different flights, Istanbul is not only going to become Star Alliance’s gateway to Central Asia and the Middle East but also an air link to Turkey’s own new regions.