Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh finds himself in a changed world in which the sort of products and services his organization offers have become far less relevant during a period in which airlines are struggling for survival. While these projects remain ongoing, Star Alliance has assumed a more diplomatic role in advocating for its member carriers.
A New Diplomatic Role For Star Alliance
Ted Reed recently chatted with Goh about the state of industry and the particularly precarious position Star Alliance, a global airline alliance, finds itself in the midst of a global pandemic.
Goh makes clear that “air travel is not the cause of infections,” adding:
“We have two sides of the Atlantic where the numbers of infections are rising. It will take quite a conversation with authorities to bring down restrictions. There are still countries who believe quarantine is the way to go, not screening and testing.
“We are trying to build trust between authorities at originating destinations. We are trying to build travel corridors.”
It’s a new diplomatic role for an organization that has traditionally focused on joint acquisition projects, lounges, and seamless connectivity between member carriers. Yet it is a logical one. Acting a unified voice of 26 member airlines, Star Alliance has a unique position in influencing public policy.
Goh notes his focus is on increasing opportunity through testing:
“Germany has been for some time on the path of screening and testing. In Frankfurt, I see queues snaking around the terminal building, waiting to be tested, which is good because the government has come to accept this arrangement.”
But Star Alliance has not abandoned its ambitious cache of projects I outlined earlier this year. Star Alliance launched new facial recognition technology that “enhance[s] the algorithm to read facial features, even with a mask on.”
Other upcoming enchantments include:
- Seamless partner seat assignments
- Paperless, efficient crediting of miles
- Baggage tracking using the Star Alliance app/carrier of your choice
- Online redemption for all 28 Star Alliance partners when using any Star Alliance loyalty program
> Read More: Star Alliance Rolling Out Extremely Useful New Services
As an advocate for its member airlines, I see no greater role for Star Alliance (and oneworld and SkyTeam) right now than helping safe travel resume through the use of testing regimes and travel corridors. The new diplomatic role is an essential extension of its original mission.
image: Star Alliance
Instead of bailing out the airlines to keep empty planes flying to nowhere while they lay off thousands of staff, why not subsidize the cost of a ticket for anyone who voluntarily opts for a test on a domestic flight. International flights would be subsidized too with mandatory testing. This way, we weed out the asymptomatic citizens, send them home, and give them a free flight after they quarantine and test negative. All the people who refuse to get tested, won’t wear a mask, deny the virus, and act like it’s 2019 which is contributing to the spread, will come out for cheap flights and get tested. Three problems solved. 1. Universal testing. 2. Airlines back in business with full planes of COVID negative passengers. 3. Borders and economies reopened.