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Is Virgin set to join Star Alliance?

By David Flynn     Filed under: Virgin Atlantic, virgin, star alliance, John Borghetti, Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Australia

Virgin Atlantic is tipped to join the Star Alliance airline network in the near future, a move likely to fuel speculation that sibling Virgin Australia will follow suit.

Speaking to Forbes, Sir Richard Branson confirmed that "There is likely to be an announcement of an alliance coming very soon”.

All three of Branson's Virgin airlines – Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Virgin America – have stayed out of the alliance game until now, preferring to forge strategic codesharing alliances with other airlines to suit the needs of their individual markets.

That's especially been the case with John Borghetti's vision of the Virgin Australia 'virtual network', which relies on ties with Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines (both of whom belong to Star Alliance), Etihad and Delta to feed passengers to Australia's key international markets.

While Branson remained mum on which alliance would win his favour you can all but rule out Oneworld, to which nemesis British Airways belongs (on local turf, the same applies to Qantas).

This leaves Star Alliance and SkyTeam, and the smart money is on Star Alliance – of which Singapore Airlines (which holds 49% of Virgin Atlantic) is a member, along with nine Virgin Atlantic partners.

And Virgin Australia, too..?

Earlier this month Kai Peters, outgoing general manager of Lufthansa Australia and then-chairman of the regional Star Alliance steering committee, was optimistic on the chances of Virgin Australia joining Star Alliance and filling one of the most noticeable holes in its network map.

“Air New Zealand has got closer to Virgin, Singapore had got closer to Virgin" Peters observed. "There’s good cooperation and that’s always a good first step to coming closer together.”

However, in announcing the Virgin Australia - Singapore Airlines partnership in June this year, Virgin Australia chief John Borghetti told Australian Business Traveller that joining Star Alliance or indeed any alliance was not on his to-do list.

"We've got so much stuff going on at Virgin Australia that that is really not in our thinking at the moment, that is something we'll think about in 2012 and beyond."

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 21/9/11 by bne

Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe Air NZ has a stake in Virgin Australia in addition to Virgin Atlantic's holding by SIA. Would be very unusual for Skyteam alliance in that case.

1 on 21/9/11 by David

Absolutely correct, and that's Yet Another factor in favour of Star Alliance! I really hope this happens, and sooner rather than later!

2 on 22/9/11 by slythgo

Lufthansa is the founding member of STAR

1 on 22/9/11 by roby

LH is one of the five founding members. On a recent NZ flight I heard the flight attendent announce NZ as the 6th Star on the Star network and I thought that was interesting and so true. The 6th was Varig which left Star in 2010.

3 on 22/9/11 by Transtasman

I really hope they join the Star Alliance and the sooner the better!

4 on 24/9/11 by chanvw

Not sure how that would work with Virgin Australia just increasing their co-operation with Delta (a major Skyteam member) via codeshares. 

1 on 24/9/11 by John

Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? And the continuation of the Etihad codeshares too, rather than throwing the lot in with Singapore for transfers to Europe.

5 on 5/11/11 by jascmil

Good article, but I don't think I'd jump to the same conclusion as you, David -- particularly in light of today's news that Lufthansa (Star) snubbed Virgin by selling its stake in BMI to IAG/BA (Oneworld). Coupling this with the codeshare agreement Delta penned with V Australia gives me a healthy dose of skepticism. I'm not saying I'd put my money on SkyTeam, but I likewise wouldn't put my money on Star.

 

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