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Alliances: Oneworld, Star add new affiliates

The Oneworld global alliance, which includes American Airlines and British Airways, is adding three new affiliate members, including two U.S. regional carriers and one airline that targets the transatlantic business travel market. Meanwhile, Star Alliance has taken on a new Asian member.

The new transatlantic carrier in Oneworld is OpenSkies, the British Airways subsidiary launched four years ago. It currently offers two flights a day between Newark and Paris Orly, and will add one daily roundtrip next March between New York JFK and Orly. The carrier operates specially configured 757s with three cabin classes—Biz Bed (business class), Prem Plus (premium economy) and Eco (economy).

OpenSkies became a Oneworld affiliate member December 1. Its flights carry the BA code, and it participates in BA’s Executive Club loyalty program. Its new Oneworld affiliation means that OpenSkies customers who belong to the frequent flyer program of any of the alliance’s members can earn and redeem mileage, and earn tier status points, on any OpenSkies flight.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Oneworld has added regional carrier SkyWest as an affiliate member and will do the same for ExpressJet effective February 14—but only on designated flights where they operate under the American Eagle banner.

Currently, the Oneworld affiliation applies to SkyWest/American Eagle flights out of Los Angeles to Albuquerque, El Paso, Fresno, Monterey, Phoenix, Reno, Santa Fe, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Jose, Salt Lake City, Sacramento and Tucson.

When ExpressJet/American Eagle joins the program in February, it will offer around a dozen destinations out of Dallas-Ft. Worth initially, Oneworld said. “Details will be announced soon, but they will include at least one destination that is new to the Oneworld map—Beaumont/Port Arthur, Texas. ExpressJet will also fly as American Eagle between DFW and Fargo, North Dakota.”

Star Alliance, which includes United and Lufthansa, among others, announced that Shenzen Airlines—the fifth-largest carrier in China—has now become a full member after 16 months of integrating systems and operations.

The addition of Shenzen brings five new Chinese destination cities to the Star route map, including Juzhou, Linyi, Qinhuangdao, Shijiazhuang and Zhoushan. Based in Shenzen, the new Star member has 400 flights a day to 70 destinations. Members of the frequent flyer programs of all Star Alliance airlines can now earn and redeem mileage on Shenzen, and miles flown on the Chinese carrier will qualify toward Star Alliance Gold and Silver status.

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