“On behalf of the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Avianca,TACA Airlines and Copa Airlines to the Star Alliance family. The addition of these quality aviation groups strengthens our presence in the rapidly growing Latin American market,” Mark Schwab, CEO Star Alliance said: “With Avianca, TACA Airlines and Copa Airlines our customers now enjoy increased connectivity across the Americas by connecting through five new Star Alliance hubs right in the middle of the American continent.”

Such wide ranging choice for travellers in today’s globalised world is something only airline alliances can offer, as they link individual networks of their member carriers. With Avianca, TACA Airlines and Copa Airlines now being part of the Star Alliance network, passengers from within and outside the region will be able to connect seamlessly through the Copa Airlines hubs in Panama City (Panama) and Bogota (Colombia) and the Avianca, TACA Airlines hubs in Bogota (Colombia), San Salvador (El Salvador), Lima (Peru) and San Jose (Costa Rica).

In addition to the network, Avianca, TACA Airlines and Copa Airlines customers will also gain access to the full breadth of the global Star Alliance benefits by using their existing frequent flyer memberships to collect and redeem miles on all member carriers. Those customers with higher status privileges in the LifeMiles programme of Avianca, TACA Airlines or in Copa Airlines’ Mileage Plus programme will be entitled to the Star Alliance Gold benefits, which offer priority services across the whole network, including extra baggage allowance, priority baggage delivery and access to over 990 lounges world-wide.

At the same time, holders of Frequent Flyer cards of the other Star Alliance member carriers will be offered the Star Alliance Frequent Flyer benefits when travelling on the Avianca, TACA Airlines and Copa Airlines network.

A further benefit which Star Alliance offers is fare products both for the corporate and leisure customer. With the home bases of both airline groups being located in one of the fastest growing regions in the world, these are ideal markets for expanding Star Alliance Corporate Plus, Conventions Plus and Meetings Plus. At the same time, the popular Star Alliance Round the World fare can now offer customers routings which include destinations such as the Galapagos Islands, Cuzco and the Jungles of Central America as well as many beach resorts in the Caribbean.

Fabio Villegas, CEO of AviancaTaca Holding said: “The integration of Avianca, TACA Airlines into the global Star Alliance network is a milestone in the development of our own merged organisation and the quality of our travel services. More than 17,000 employees at Avianca, TACA Airlines are proud to be offering customers a consistently high quality of service right across the globe, at a standard that matches that of the most prestigious airlines on this planet.”

“Joining Star Alliance is an accomplishment for our company.  We are proud to become part of the largest and most prestigious global airline network and to draw the world’s attention to the Isthmus of Panama,” said Copa Airlines CEO Pedro Heilbron. “In addition, Copa will provide frequent flyers around the world with more benefits and travel options throughout the Latin American region, making it easier for them to connect through Tocumen Airport and visit our country.”

Avianca, TACA Airlines serve more than 100 destinations around the world, operating a fleet of more than 150 modern short, medium and long range aircraft. The carrier group directly employs over 17,000 people and has more than three million members in its loyalty programme. Avianca, TACA Airlines, which each consolidate several smaller Latin American carriers, agreed to a strategic merger in October 2009, creating a combined network focusing on North, Central and South America, the Caribbean and cities in Europe. TACA’s initial began negotiations for Star Alliance membership in 2008.

The two airlines of Copa Holdings - Copa Airlines and Copa Airlines Colombia - serve 64 destinations in 29 countries. The group recently strengthened its presence in Colombia, by rebranding Aero Republica to Copa Airlines Colombia. Copa Airlines’ Hub of the Americas at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama, is Latin America’s leading hub, with major traffic from the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Copa’s entrance into Star Alliance reinforces its 12-year-old alliance with United-Continental.

As of today, the Star Alliance network is comprised of 27 members offering more than 21,500 daily flights to 1,356 airports in 193 countries.