South African Airways has officially joined the Star Alliance, allowing Voyager members to benefit from being part of a 18-member alliance that offers extensive global coverage.
The key benefits are seamless connectivity from point to point and the chance of earning or redeeming frequent flyer miles on any member airline.
First and business class passengers, as well as Voyager elite members, also have access to 550 lounges in the 842 airports in 152 countries where Star Alliance airlines fly.
Although SAA customers stand to benefit from the alliance, the high oil price means slim chances of ticket prices falling.
Alliances help airlines increase their revenues and passenger loads, and enable airlines to use their collective buying power to negotiate affordable prices when acquiring aircraft components.
SAA did not belong to any alliance before joining the Star Alliance. The national carrier did have codeshare agreements with airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Qantas and British Airways, which belong to Oneworld, and Air France and Alitalia, which belong to SkyTeam.
SAA CEO Khaya Ngqula said SAA would leverage its existing routes in Africa to fly connecting passengers from its hub at the Johannesburg International Airport to other destinations within the continent.
SAA’s application to join the Star Alliance was conditionally granted in 2004 subject to approval by South Africa’s Competition Commission. The commission, renowned for its strict stance against anticompetitive practices, previously ruled against SAA’s application to enter a codesharing agreement with Mozambique’s carrier LAM.