Deutsche Bahn joins airline alliance Star Alliance

2 min reading time

Published on 7 July 2022

Deutsche Bahn Star Alliance

From 1 August 2022, Deutsche Bahn will become the first rail company to join an airline alliance as an "intermodal partner".

The pact, which will be officially launched on 1 August, will build on the existing partnership between Star Alliance member Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn, and will offer travellers joint flight and train bookings between the 26 Star Alliance member airlines, as well as loyalty benefits.

This unprecedented partnership is being done in a bid to reduce carbon emissions by promoting a sustainable mode of transport: rail. In a statement, the alliance called the partnership "an environmentally friendly development in the travel sector".

Indeed, numerous studies have shown that carbon emissions decrease when a flight is replaced by a train. This is why France last year banned flights carrying passengers on routes where trains travel in two and a half hours or less. However, the question is how to transfer passengers to the train when flight options still exist.

A Deutsche Bahn spokesman said the number of passengers booking joint air-rail tickets with Lufthansa has doubled since 2010. However, in 2019, Lufthansa said 575,000 passengers used its rail partnership with Deutsche Bahn, less than 1% of the 71.3 million passengers the airline carried that year.

It is not yet known how many Star Alliance members will place their own flight numbers on Deutsche Bahn trains. Spokespersons for All Nippon Airways and Singapore Airlines both said that their companies had not yet done so but were considering doing so in the future.

For all the apparent drawbacks of the partnership, it shows that airlines are taking seriously the idea of offering alternatives to flying to reduce carbon emissions. Over the past year, Air France, Delta Air Lines, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines have all individually launched new or expanded partnerships with rail operators in Europe.

With attractive connections in Germany and simultaneous links to international travel chains, Deutsche Bahn and Star Alliance are making a significant contribution to reducing [carbon] emissions in the transport sector.

Michael Peterson, Head of Deutsche Bahn's long-distance rail division

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