Thai Smile Airways, the budget offshoot of Thai Airways, will become the “Connecting Partner” in the Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline network. Customers travelling on an itinerary which includes a transfer between a Star Alliance member airline and a Connecting Partner will be offered standard alliance benefits, such as the issue of a boarding passes for connecting flights at check-in, and automatic baggage transfer.
Once all the legal requirements are sorted out Thai Smile will become the second Connecting Partner after Juneyao Airlines, which was admitted in 2017. The relationship is expected to start at the end of this year.
The Star Alliance chief executive officer Jeffrey Goh said the alliance’s board met on the sidelines of the 75th IATA annual general meeting and approved Thai Smile’s application to join the Connecting Partner program.
The model, created by Star Alliance in 2016, is intended to complement its network of full members, which have commercial ties with every other airline in the alliance. Connecting Partners need only to have commercial relationships with a minimum of three other carriers.
When Thai Smile was launched in 2011, Thai Airways said their junior airline was intended to bridge the gap between budget carriers and full-service airlines. Thai Smile currently serves 11 destinations in Thailand and 16 destinations in Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and India.
Thai Smile officials says they are now implementing the necessary technology and commercial links to allow the carrier to begin serving Star Alliance, connecting passengers in 2020. By then the airline will offer privileges to qualifying Star Alliance Gold Status passengers travelling on connecting flights, including priority check-in, Thai Smile lounge access and priority baggage delivery.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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