Speaking to Routes News at World Travel Market in London, Bob Schumacher, managing director sales UK and Ireland, said the Virgin’s extensive network, product and its shareholding in fellow Star member Singapore Airlines would make it a good addition to the alliance.
“We always hear about one particularly [airline] near here that is assessing its opportunities about joining an alliance and we were given another timeline just last week by Steve Ridgeway and Richard Branson talking about three months or so,” Schumacher said.
“Clearly we would love them to join us in Star Alliance [they are 49% owned by] Singapore Airlines which is a very core partner of ours in Star Alliance and we will continue to watch how that evolves.”
Schumacher said the era of the airline alliance was far from over and the industry would see more carriers transitioning into or between them, citing the example of the recent merger Lan and TAM.
“We are very happy with the one we are in and we are making the very best of it, Star Alliance Company Plus is an example of where alliances can play out, it doesn’t matter which airline you are travelling on as an SME you get you get frequent flyer miles, company will get benefits too. There are companies looking in like Branson who said if you can’t beat them why not join them.”
United will “look very closely” at emerging cities in the BRIC nations when it comes to new destinations for its new B787 Dreamliners, a senior member of United has stated.
Schumacher would not be drawn on where the aircraft would be deployed but said it would lead to a host of new destinations in the United network.
“The first B787 service will be Houston-Lagos, the next market will be Denver–Tokyo and as those aircraft are delivered we will be announcing a string of new destinations,” he said.
Schumacher also said that while the outlook was still challenging the enlarged United and its alliance partners were well positioned for next year.
“Flat is the new high, we’re not going to change the industry next year people just don’t have the money in their pockets whenever the upturn occurs we’re in the right position to capitalise on that.”