Star Alliance Expands Network To Rail With First ‘Intermodal’ Partner

Lufthansa’s passengers already have access to the German air-rail connection Star has tapped.

Credit: Star Alliance

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) has been announced as the Star Alliance’s first intermodal, non-airline partner, a signal that airlines are looking to broaden the scope of their networks to include other modes of transport. 

Under the new cooperation, DB customers and passengers of Star Alliance member airlines can start or end their journey by train. Germany is the first market where the alliance’s intermodal concept is being tried.

Lufthansa customers have already been able to buy a combined ticket for DB trains and Lufthansa flights in one booking step, including seat reservation. Starting Aug. 1, all 25 other Star Alliance member airlines will be able to include DB’s ICE high-speed trains as flight numbers in their booking engine.

Upon check-in, which is possible until shortly before the train departs, travelers receive their boarding passes for both the flight and the train journeys.

“This brings great forces together and opens the Star Alliance doors beyond the airline ecosystem,” Star Alliance CEO Jeffrey Goh said. “Our new model for intermodal partnerships promises seamless coexistence between different modes of transport throughout the alliance.”

Star Alliance’s intermodal partnership model combines airlines with railway, bus, ferry or any other transport ecosystems, alliance-wide. It is designed to link loyalty systems and facilitate seamless airport/station/port transit. Star Alliance plans to expand its intermodal partnerships in the future.

In a July 4 statement, DB Board Member for Long-Distance Passenger Transport Michael Peterson said the DB-Star Alliance partnership would make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector.

The announcement came during a period in which Lufthansa domestic flights are being canceled particularly frequently due to system overload. Because travelers on these routes can be offered good alternatives by train, Lufthansa now offers every domestic flight connection by train on an equal basis via its systems. On German domestic long-distance trains, DB is seeing a 40% increase of fully booked trains.

“Our partnership is unique worldwide,” said Deutsche Lufthansa AG board member Harry Hohmeister. “Mobility of the future means mastering challenges together.”