Star Alliance says Shenzhen Airlines will join network

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Members of the aviation Star Alliance that includes Lufthansa and United Airlines, said on Wednesday they would welcome Schenzhen Airlines to the club, allowing Star to extend service in China and neighbouring countries.

"Bringing Shenzhen Airlines into the alliance is part of a long-term strategy to expand the Star Alliance network into future growth markets," a statement said.

The fifth-biggest Chinese carrier will join Air China, which has been a Star member since 2007.

The move adds five new Chinese destinations to the alliance's network, which now includes 27 airlines and expects to soon add five more, the statement said.

Last month, China Eastern airlines and its Shanghai Airlines unit joined the rival SkyTeam alliance formed around a core of Air France-KLM and the US ailrine Delta.

SkyTeam claims to offer the most extensive service to Chinese cities.

© 2011 AFP

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