MIAMI — Sao Paulo-based carrier Avianca Brasil has officially become the newest member of the Star Alliance today, in a move that seeks to fill the void left by TAM Airlines after leaving the alliance in March 2014 following its merge with LAN Airlines, a oneworld member.
In a ceremony that took place in Guarulhos Internacional Airport, Mark Schwab, CEO Star Alliance assured “Adding Avianca Brasil to our network is an important step in enhancing our customer proposition in Latin America. Brazil is the most important aviation market on the continent and we are pleased that from today onwards, we can once again offer domestic connections in Brazil.”
Currently, Avianca Brasil is the fastest growing airline in the country. From 2010 to 2014 it increased its market share from 2.6% to 8.4%. Until May of 2015 the airline continued this trend, reaching a cumulative market share of 9%.
In November 2010 the alliance accepted the group Avianca Holdings to join the network as a member. However, Avianca Brasil was not included at that time. According to Jose Efromovich, President and CEO of Avianca Brazil, the integration took approximately two years in which the airline’s IT platform was revamped among further adjustments in programs and procedures up to the standards of the alliance. “We are proud to be part of the most experienced airline alliance and are pleased to put Brazil back on the Star Alliance map” he commented.
In total 13 member carriers (Air Canada, Air China, Avianca, Avianca Brasil, Copa Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAP, Turkish Airlines and United) now serve Brazil, which further strengthens Star Alliance’s position as the alliance with the most airlines in this market. Avianca Brasil adds 15 new destinations in Brazil to the existing 12 which the Star Alliance member carriers already served, bringing the total to 27.
In addition to Avianca’s Brasil membership, Star Alliance seeks to add low-cost carrier Azul Linhas Aereas to its network. The airline, the third largest in Brazil, was elected in 2015 for the fifth time in a row by Skytrax as the best low cost carrier in Latin America. Last June, United Airlines bought a 5% stake in the airline, which may open the road to a future integration in the alliance.
To have two large players in the same region under the same alliance is not new for Star Alliance. In Latin America, the alliance is represented by Panama-based Copa Airlines and Avianca, the flag carrier of Colombia.