In a move which has been anticipated for several months now, both Copa and Avianca/Taca have joined Star Alliance today. This move give the alliance an overwhelming grip on access to the Central America market and also significant access to South America. It also means that the alliance will almost certainly be losing Brazil-based member TAM in the very near future.
The Star Alliance website is now running a loop on their homepage announcing the new membership and the member airlines have also announced that today is the day, though the official press release from the alliance is not yet online.
Because of conditions set by the Chilean anti-trust officials TAM will not be allowed to complete their merger with LAN and have the combined carrier remain in the same alliance as Avianca/Taca. Today’s announcement further cements the theory that TAM is on the way out of the alliance.
Adding five new hubs in Central and South America (PTY, BOG, SAL, LIM and SJO), the Star Alliance route map is going to grow significantly.
While not all the destinations are truly new to the alliance, a number of them will be lost when TAM leaves so getting them back in is a great benefit. This adds a number of connections between North and South America (though the timing of the Copa flights is somewhat questionable in terms of convenience) and it adds additional trans-Atlantic connectivity, too.
Lots of fun to be had with this update. Lots of fun.