Star Alliance has announced plans for THAI Smile Airways, a Thai regional airline to become the next Connecting Partner in its global network.
The Connecting Partner model was established by Star Alliance in June 2016 to complement its membership model.
In contrast to full membership in the Alliance, requiring building of commercial ties with all full members, the more regional Connecting Partner scope calls for commercial relationships with a minimum of three carriers only.
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 passenger and baggage through check-in.
In addition, customers who have achieved Star Alliance Gold Status in their frequent flyer programme will enjoy premium customer benefits.
Once all entry requirements are fulfilled, which is expected by the end of the year, THAI Smile Airways will become the second Connecting Partner, joining Juneyao Airlines that entered in 2017.
Connecting Partners allow Star Alliance to close network gaps that may exist of a regional basis. THAI Smile Airways will add 11 new destinations to the Star Alliance network, which already comprises over 1,300 airports in 194 countries.