SINGAPORE, April 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Chief executives of some of the world's leading airlines today gathered in Singapore to welcome Singapore Airlines as the newest member of Star Alliance(TM) -- "the airline network for earth." Singapore Airlines becomes the eleventh member of the Alliance, and the second to join this year. "There are few areas left in the world where Star Alliance doesn't have a significant presence," said Dr. Cheong Choong Kong, Deputy Chairman and CEO of Singapore Airlines. "But big is not necessarily beautiful. Enhanced benefits to the customer, such as easier access to a global network, more travel options, and seamless and convenient connections -- these are beautiful, and these are the reasons why SIA is joining the Star Alliance network." An innovator and leader in customer service, Singapore Airlines and its regional subsidiary, SilkAir, fly to 93 destinations in 42 countries, serving Asia, Europe, North America, the Middle East, the South West Pacific, and Africa. Renowned for its superb inflight service, the airline regularly receives accolades from international organizations and publications involved in travel, tourism or business. The other members of the Star Alliance network are Air Canada, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways - ANA, Ansett Australia, the Austrian Airlines Group (comprising Austrian Airlines, Lauda Air and Tyrolean Airways), Lufthansa German Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines System - SAS, Thai Airways International, United Airlines and VARIG Brazilian Airlines. Mexicana Airlines and British Midland Airways are scheduled to join the Alliance later in the year. "We are very pleased to have Singapore Airlines join our Alliance," said Air Canada CEO Robert Milton, speaking on behalf of the other Star Alliance CEOs. "The Asia-Pacific region is an extremely important market for all of us, and having another fine carrier in the region will provide additional choice and destinations for our customers." CEOs look back on three years of success During their board meeting in Singapore, which falls on the eve of the third anniversary of the creation of the Alliance, the member airline CEOs reflected on the progress they have made in realizing the vision of Star Alliance that was set out at the launch in May 1997. The CEOs said they were satisfied that, in just three years, the Star Alliance network has re-shaped international air travel, and delivered the wide range of benefits anticipated at the launch. When the Alliance was created, the original five members pledged to provide customers with unsurpassed global access and seamless service. Initially, this simply meant allowing loyal customers to accumulate mileage points on all member airlines that counted toward top-tier status in the frequent flyer plan of their choice, as well as providing them reciprocal privileges at airport lounges. But that quickly changed as many new benefits were added. At the launch, the CEOs promised that the Star Alliance network would result in access to more flights and destinations, simplified ticketing and reservations, more convenient connections, and better baggage and ground services -- all of which combine to create a hassle-free, seamless travel experience. In the three years since, Star Alliance has delivered on all the promises of Day One: -- More than 2,500 flights daily and more than 250 destinations have been added to the Star Alliance network since 1997, and member airlines have adjusted their arrival and departure times to make for more convenient connections. -- Passengers on flights connecting from one Star Alliance carrier to another are now checked through all the way to their destination, with boarding passes for all legs of the journey -- eliminating the need to check in at transfer desks for seat assignment. -- Travelers can use the Internet to select their Star Alliance flight and make their own reservations through the Star Alliance website, www.star-alliance.com . The new, user-friendly system makes travel planning easy by being available 24-hours a day, seven days a week and only a mouse-click away. -- Wherever possible, Star Alliance airlines are moving their airport facilities to be close to one another, speeding up and simplifying connections. The most recent example of this "under-one-roof" approach is Rio de Janeiro. -- Frequent flyers who attain "Star Alliance Gold" or "Star Alliance Silver" status are given special recognition by all the member airlines, and are given priority service, such as Priority Check-in and Priority Baggage Handling. -- The reciprocal privileges at airport lounges has now been extended to more than 500 lounges worldwide [see separate release issued today]. "No one airline on its own can offer this range of benefits, the scope of destinations or the ease of travel that we can offer together, through the Star Alliance network," said Rono Dutta, United Airlines President.
SOURCE Star Alliance