Valley passengers can check in at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport for a trip that ends in Tokyo or Singapore.
By year-end, add hot spots in China and Turkey to the list of foreign locales a US Airways passenger can be ticketed to directly.
“And we’re working on Russia and India,” said Jaan Albrecht, CEO of Frankfurt,
Germany-based Star Alliance.
If potential customers didn’t know that before, it’s because the hometown airline was so busy with one merger and hopes — recently dashed — for another that it didn’t get around to telling the public about Star Alliance.
But when Tempe-based America West Airlines snatched up US Airways in 2005, it automatically became a member of the global code-share arrangement that lets passengers book trips to 855 destinations in 155 countries through a single reservation made with a single carrier.
Members include such worldwide carriers as United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Asiana Airlines, Air New Zealand, ANA and Scandinavian Airlines.
The organization also lets passengers of the 17-member airlines share frequent-flyer miles, rebook canceled or delayed flights on another carrier and use other members’ airport lounges — all 650 of them worldwide, Albrecht said.
While US Airways has been too busy, so far, to promote the service, the airline can attribute nearly $1 billion of its $12 billion in annual bookings to Star Alliance reservations, said Dennis Tierney, US Airways’ director for alliances.
Tierney can’t say how much of that business passengers would have booked on US Airways anyway, but the company believes the bottom-line benefit of belonging to Star Alliance is significant and a good return on investment.
US Airways President Scott Kirby did not say how much the airline antes up for membership dues, but he said, “the cost is not a material number.”
Star Alliance also bestows on its members the bounty of a large-group meetings business and international corporate account agreements, and US Airways already has benefited from 10 of those, Albrecht said.
And within three years, the organization will be selling air passes, a voucher system similar to Eurorail passes, that will allow international travelers to pre-purchase air travel segments without specifying times and dates, he said.
The integration of America West and US Airways reservation systems is tentatively scheduled to be completed March 4, and Tierney said once that is done, the company will add, over time, access to all Star Alliance members’ flights on the US Airways Web site or direct links to the appropriate member sites.The Star Alliance Web site provides the links directly to the carriers for booking purposes, Albrecht said.
Kirby said being part of the network of international carriers will spur rather than deter US Airways’ plans to increase the number of its own international flights because the alliance provides more connections within foreign countries for its passengers.Star Alliance carriers fly 27 percent of the world’s air traffic.