SEOUL -- Thai Airways regional subsidiary Thai Smile will
become the second carrier to join the Star Alliance Connecting Partner program.
Established by Star Alliance in 2016, the Connecting Partner
program is designed to enable the alliance to fill in network gaps, primarily
in small regional markets. Unlike full Star Alliance members, which must do interlining
with all of the alliance's 26 other full members, Connecting Partner members
are only required to have commercial partnerships with three alliance members.
Thai Smile already has partnerships with at least six
alliance members, Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh said during a press conference
Sunday at the IATA Annual General Meeting. The carrier will add 11 new
destinations to the Star Alliance network, which already comprises more than
1,300 airports in 194 countries.
Integrating Thai Smile into the Connecting Partner program
will take six or seven months, Goh said.
The other Connecting Partner member of the Star Alliance is
Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines, which joined in 2016.