Star Alliance once again has a member carrier based in Brazil. Avianca Brazil officially joined the group today, becoming the third Brazilian carrier to do so (Varig & TAM are the other two; both eventually left, for different reasons). Speaking at the press conference announcing the integration Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab described it as putting the alliance “back where we belong.” The move opens up approximately 20 new destinations in Brazil to the alliance and a number of opportunities for frequent fliers as well. While Avianca Brazil does not offer any additional long-haul, international service to the alliance there are a dozen carriers which do connect in to Brazil; this move makes that “last mile” hop much more convenient.
From a loyalty perspective it also integrates the Amigo program into the alliance, with Amigo Silver receiving Star Alliance Silver benefits while Amigo Gold and Diamond will have Star Alliance Gold status. Earning rates have been published and, like most carriers, earning on discounted fares is reduced (or nil on the lowest fares) while earning on premium fares is elevated. Earning rates for Avianca Brazil flights in other programs are not available yet, at least for the few I searched on.
On the redemption side there are some quirks in the chart, particularly with geography in Europe and North America to Western Europe being slightly more expensive than to Eastern Europe. There are also some awards which seem exceptionally expensive relative to other programs, such as South Asia to North America for 90k one way in economy. And some which are a pretty good deal, like Brazil to South or Central Africa for 40k one way.
As for the potential to include Brazilian carrier Azul in the alliance, a possibility/rumor which is picking up momentum since United recently agreed to an equity stake and the TAP buyout from Azul’s founder David Neeleman, that’s not really up for discussion today according to Schwab. But it would be surprising to see that completely off the table, at least right now.
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