Star Alliance announced the plans for THAI Smile Airways to become the next Connecting Partner in its global network.
The Chief Executive Board of Star Alliance, meeting on the sides of the 75th IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul, approved the application of THAI Smile Airways to become a part the Alliance’s Connecting Partner model.
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.
Jeffrey Goh, Star Alliance CEO said: “Three years after the introduction of the new programme, I am pleased to announce that THAI Smile is set to become the next Star Alliance Connecting Partner, which will support us in further strengthening our position as the leading airline alliance network. The partnership with our first Connecting Partner, Juneyao Airlines, has exceeded our mutual expectations and we look forward to providing our customers with even more choice through the addition of the THAI Smile Airways offer”.
Charita Leelayudth, Acting CEO, THAI Smile Airways said: “We are delighted that the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board has given the green light for THAI Smile to proceed with our proposal to become a Star Alliance Connecting Partner. This gives us the unique opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the strong Alliance network and at the same time pursue our own business model, providing superior air travel experience for the modern travellers at affordable prices.”
The Bangkok based airline has begun to implement the necessary technology and commercial links which will allow THAI Smile to begin serving Star Alliance connecting passengers in 2020. As of then, the airline will be offering the privileges to qualifying Star Alliance Gold Status passengers travelling on connecting itineraries, including Priority Check-in, Thai Smile Lounge Access, and Priority Baggage Delivery.
About THAI Smile Airways
THAI Smile Airways, a subsidiary airline of Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI), is a regional airline operator for short and medium range flights. The airline operates using “WE” as an airline code and aims to become a favorite airline with the Heart of Thai in Asia. Unlike other carriers, THAI Smile is a ‘Full Service” airline being Regional Wings of Thai Airways. We provide excellence and quality services to meet the needs of short-haul travelers with an affordable price, while ensuring greatest comfort and convenience for a superior travel experience. The airline fleet consists of 20 aircraft in 2016 and operates using narrow-body fleet with operation bases located at Suvarnabhumi International Airport with more than 60 flights per day. And it has delivered overall services more than 16 million passengers from around the world. Products and services of THAI Smile are suitable for passengers travelling short distances. The airline has adjusted several dimension of its strategy to serve travelers with a tagine: Fly Smart, Fly THAI Smile.
THAI Smile Airways operates in 10 domestic destinations: Chiang Mai, Phuket, Khon Kaen, Chiang Rai, Hat-Yai, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon thani, Surat thani, Narathiwat and Krabi. THAI Smile also provides cross-region services Chiang Mai and Phuket. For international routes, THAI Smile also operates 17 international flights to Yangon, Siem Reap, Penang, Changsha, Chongqing, Zhengzhou, Kaohsiung, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kolkata, Bangkok- Hong Kong and Phuket- Hong Kong with a plan to further increase the flight frequency of domestic and launch new international routes.
Photo: © Star Alliance