Star Alliance has announced plans for Thai Smile Airways to become a Connecting Partner in its global network.

The chief executive board of the alliance approved the airline’s application during a meeting at the 75th IATA Annual General Meeting in Seoul.

The partnership, in contrast to full membership, requires Thai Smile Airways to build commercial ties with at least three member carriers. Star Alliance says these agreements are expected to be fulfilled by the end of 2019.

Customers travelling on an itinerary that includes a transfer between a full member and a Connecting Partner will be offered standard benefits such as passenger and baggage through check-in. In addition, travellers who have achieved Star Alliance Gold status in its frequent flyer programme will have access to premium benefits.

Star Alliance says the Connecting Partner agreements allow it to close gaps on a regional basis, with Thai Smile Airways adding 11 new destinations to its network.

Jeffrey Goh, CEO of Star Alliance, 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 of Thai Smile Airways, added: “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.”

staralliance.com; thaismileair.com

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