Copa likely to join Star Alliance

Copa shares the OnePass program with Continental, so when Continental announced their intention to shift from SkyTeam to Star Alliance there was a large question mark over the future fate of Copa. That question seems to have been answered with some comments made by their CEO at an airline conference in Cancun late last week.

Copa chief executive Pedro Heilbron, meanwhile, said on the sidelines of the forum that the Panamanian carrier has decided to leave SkyTeam and is in exclusive talks with Star.

Heilbron says Copa has no “commercial choice” but to leave SkyTeam because its main partner, Continental, decided earlier this year to leave SkyTeam for Star. Continental sponsored Copa’s entrance into SkyTeam. Continental is scheduled to formally leave SkyTeam for Star late next year but Heilbron says “we have some time” to decide what it should do.

“We’re looking at all our options,” he says. “We won’t rush it.”

But those options do not include staying in SkyTeam or joining oneworld, according to Heilbron. So it seems the only thing Copa needs to decide is whether it should join Star as a full or regional member and when it should make the switch. Copa is now an affiliate of SkyTeam rather than a full member.

This is very bad news for SkyTeam, as they are losing their largest presence in Latin and South America, but great for Continental and Star Alliance. This isn’t particularly surprising news based on the shared loyalty program, but this is the first time I’ve seen anything in writing that suggests it is actually happening.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.