Star Alliance returned to Frankfurt, the place of its birth, to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
As part of the event, the alliance announced a decade-long strategy of harnessing digital technology to further enhance the travel experience of customers.
The alliance’s chief executive board, comprising the chief executives of all 28 member airlines, held its summer board meeting in Frankfurt and discussed briefly discussed the progress of the alliance’s current business plan and future strategy.
The meeting fell exactly 20 years to the day when its founding members – Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, THAI and United – first united the aviation industry with the announcement that they would come together to form the world’s first global aviation alliance.
“Our founding fathers had a very forward thinking vision back in 1997,” said Jeffrey Goh, who took over as chief executive of Star Alliance in January this year.
“From that moment on, Star Alliance was destined to drive innovation to the airline industry.
“We have done this successfully for the last 20 years, constantly striving to meet the original vision of a global network seamlessly integrated for international travel.”
The alliance enters its third decade with a strong and comprehensive network serving over 1,300 destinations in 191 countries.
Connectivity continues to expand by member carriers launching new routes and increasing frequencies, while network reach will grow through the addition of local and regional airlines through the Connecting Partner concept.
Against this background, the alliance’s clear strategic focus has shifted from network expansion to providing a seamless 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 this strategy.
“Access to instant information updates online, from more or less anywhere, has irrevocably changed the expectations of customers as they travel,” said Pedro Heilbron, chief executive of Copa Airlines and current chairman of the Star Alliance chief executive board.
“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 our new strategic focus.”
The IT hub infrastructure, which the Alliance put into place in recent years, has allowed for better integration of back-end services between the member airlines.
The baggage hub, the most recent IT hub project, went live at the end of 2016 and facilitates baggage message transfer between the member airlines, their ground handlers and the baggage handling systems at the airports.
Today it processes, on average, five million baggage messages a day.
This allows the airlines to better steer baggage operations and to keep customers informed on the status of their bag.
Once implemented across the entire network, it will become easier to give customers proactive updates on their baggage delivery status.