United Airlines (Nasdaq: UAUA) today welcomed Continental Airlines to the Star Alliance, marking a significant step in the carriers’ plans to link their networks and services and offer new, unparalleled convenience to the benefit of the traveling public, employees at each airline and the scores of communities the carriers serve.
With Continental’s membership in the Star Alliance, United customers are eligible to earn and redeem Mileage Plus miles throughout Continental’s network, which includes more than 60 cities not currently served by United or another Star Alliance member. The two airlines – like all members of the Star Alliance – recognize elite-level frequent flier benefits reciprocally and provide access to the worldwide network of lounges operated by the Star Alliance airlines.
“Today is a great day for United, for Continental, for the Star Alliance and for the traveling public,” said Glenn Tilton, chairman and chief executive officer of United Airlines. “The partnership between United and Continental – the result of extensive work over the past year – will enable the two carriers to offer our customers the best global network, more choice and more value. I applaud the leadership of Larry Kellner and the dedication of his team and our team at United for their extensive work in making this unique partnership a reality.”
Beginning today, United and Continental customers are able to purchase flights operated under the carriers’ codesharing agreement. Some 400 Continental flights, principally in trans-Atlantic markets and many domestic U.S. markets, are being marketed as United flights, with some 400 United flights being sold with a Continental flight number.
United and Continental have been working since mid-2008 to achieve additional synergies while facilitating improved connection opportunities, baggage handling and lounge access for customers. In Frankfurt, Continental’s operations co-located with United’s and Lufthansa’s today, with Continental joining United and other Star Alliance carriers in Tokyo and Paris in November. In recent months, Continental has co-located with United in several U.S. airports including Chicago, Salt Lake City and Cincinnati.
The two carriers also have joined with Air Canada and Lufthansa in an expanded trans-Atlantic joint venture, through which the carriers will offer customers – particularly corporate customers – service to more destinations, access to a larger inventory of seats in all booking classes, and a greater selection of routings.