Thai Smile joining Star Alliance as connecting partner

Photo Credit: Phuong D. Nguyen/Shutterstock

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.

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