National carrier Swiss has announced that it is to join the Star Alliance within the next 12 months.
As an independent airline, Swiss tried in vain to be accepted into a global alliance. After it was taken over by Germany’s Lufthansa in March, entry into Star Alliance has been expected.
The announcement comes exactly one year after the loss-making Swiss pulled out of negotiations to join the rival American Airlines/British Airways-led oneworld group. Talks with oneworld broke down over the integration of frequent flyer programs.
In a statement, Swiss said the chief executive board of Star Alliance had voted unanimously to accept the carrier’s application for membership. Swiss will be integrated into the group along with South African Airways.
The step marks the beginning of the process of Swiss formally joining the 16-member alliance.
The airline said it intended to fulfill all the entry requirements, including harmonizing IT interfaces, training staff and marketing within the next year.
“Joining Star Alliance represents a milestone for our company and its customers,” said Christoph Franz, Swiss chief executive officer.
Swiss said customers of all member airlines stood to benefit. Once Swiss and South African Airways are integrated into the group Star Alliance will offer travelers a network of 846 destinations in 151 countries.
Swiss said the airline would also “vigorously pursue” its integration into the alliance.
Joining Star Alliance was one of the integration projects in which the focus was on benefits to customers. The airline said the first such benefits should become apparent once the Swiss competition authorities had given their approval to the deal.
Swiss was created in 2002 as a successor to the collapsed national airline Swissair. After three years of independence, during which it struggled to break even, it was absorbed into Lufthansa in March.