April 2012 is going to be a busy month for Star Alliance. That’s when Copa and Avianca-Taca are expected to become full members of the global alliance, culminating a process that has been ongoing for many months now. The official invitation to join was extended just earlier this month and it seems that the integration process will be completed incredibly quickly by global alliance standards. Normally the integration takes 12-18 months (or even longer if you’re Air India) but these carriers plan to do it much faster.
For Copa the process shouldn’t be too hard. They already use the same OnePass loyalty program as Continental and that will merge into the new MileagePlus program from United. There will still need to be bilateral agreements drawn up with the other alliance members and some adjustments on the inventory and computer systems side of things but they are pretty far ahead in the game.
For Avianca-Taca there is definitely some more work involved. Although the carrier has frequent flyer relationships with Star Alliance members United and Lufthansa there are still more steps required to get fully integrated. Still, Copa CEO Pedro Heilbronn confirmed that join date for both programs so it looks pretty good, at least for now.
One interesting bit about Copa joining the program is that, as of today, there are no long-haul flights into the Panama City hub from overseas. There are connection options from Dulles, O’Hare, Los Angeles, Houston and Newark, giving great integration to the United Airlines network, but not much beyond that. It will be interesting to see if joining into Star Alliance can bring some more long-haul traffic into that hub.
- Changes announced for the 2012 Mileage Plus program
- Code-sharing coming to Central American competitors
- Copa likely to join Star Alliance
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