Star Alliance celebrates 20 years of Connecting People and Cultures
To mark its 20th anniversary, Star Alliance invited around 200 frequent flyers, travel agents and media to an evening function held at the Island Shangri-La Hotel.
Addressing the invited guests on behalf of all Star Alliance member airlines, Lars-Ove Filipson, General Manager, Greater China, Chief Representative Global Sales & Marketing, SAS Scandinavian Airlines said that the Alliance’s founding fathers had a very forward thinking vision back in 1997, when Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, THAI and United first announcement that they would come together to form the world`s first global aviation alliance.
Since then, Star Alliance has driven innovation in the airline industry, constantly striving to support the original vision of a global network seamlessly integrated for international travel.
He continued by commenting that the Alliance had entered its third decade with a strong and comprehensive network of 28 airlines serving over 1,300 destinations in 191 countries. Connectivity would continue to grow mainly by member carriers launching new routes and increasing frequencies, reminding the audience that, for example, both Austrian and SAS had started flying to Hong Kong in the past two years. The Alliance’s new Connecting Partner concept would also play a role in expanding network reach through the addition of local and regional airlines, such as Juneyao Airlines.
Moving into the next decade, the Alliance’s clear strategic focus is however shifting to the provision of a seamless travel experience, especially to the over 14 million annual customers who connect between member carriers on their journeys. Going forward, digital technologies will lie at the heart of the Alliance’s strategy. Access to instant information updates online from more or less anywhere
has irrevocably changed the expectations of customers as they travel. Passengers want to have control over their journey at their fingertips. That means having full access to a wealth of information, but also being able to personalise it to their own particular requirements. Providing such services to today’s ‘digital’ traveller on an alliance level is the central pillar of the Alliance’s new strategic focus.
Passengers departing from Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) on Star Alliance member airlines will also benefit from service improvements in the coming years. Building on the experience gained in airport projects at London Heathrow Terminal 2 and Tokyo – Narita Terminal 1, Star Alliance is in talks with HKIA to ensure that all its member carriers can be co-located in the same terminal area and the modern self-service technology can be offered to the customer.
In support of the 20th anniversary campaign which is running under the motto of “Connecting People and Cultures, each of the 28 Star Alliance member carriers has come up with their own local cultural experience idea. The five founding carriers, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, THAI and United, have gone one step further by challenging National Geographic’s Travel Nomad,
Robert Reid, to test their recommendations personally and report back to travellers on his experience.
As the special guest of the evening, Robert gave some insight to the “dream job” of being a travel writer. He then talked about each of his five experiences, which all allowed him to get deeper into a culture, needing to break his “comfort zone” by making him try things he never thought he would do. He commented that you often find yourself moved by things you would never have expected to enjoy.
A further 23 unique cultural experiences selected by the Star Alliance member carriers can also be found at http://www.staralliance.com/en/culturalexperiences and range from tile painting in Portugal to home cooking in Shenzhen, China, to joining the locals in Bogota turn major roads in the city into cycle paths on Sundays.
The event was also supported by RIMOWA who gave a short talk about their RIMOWA Electronic Tag and provided a specially-produced Star Alliance branded Rimowa amenity kit as a gift to all attendees. These also include a Star Alliance postcard keepsake.
Hong Kong represents one of Star Alliance’s main international hubs in South East Asia and is served by 18 member airlines – Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, THAI, Turkish Airlines and United. Together they offer around 129 daily flights to/from 34 destinations in 17 countries. Star Alliance’s Connecting Partner, Juneyao Airlines, offers four weekly services between Hong Kong and Shanghai – Pudong