As I posted last June, Taiwan's EVA Airways has been in the process of joining Star Alliance for many months now. Finally, this past Thursday, they were officially accepted into the world's largest airline alliance, with full membership expected in early 2013. This follows on the heels of China Airlines (Taiwan's biggest carrier) joining SkyTeam in late 2011.
Adding EVA Airways strengthens Star Alliance's position in greater China. The extremely lucrative cross-strait route between mainland China and Taiwan (in which foreign carriers are not allowed to fly) gives Star Alliance a huge boost, since Air China and EVA Airways alone account for more than 30% of the total capacity. For people wanting to visit mainland China, EVA Airways operates dozens of daily nonstop flights from Taipei to 19 destinations.
As Frequently Flying pointed out, EVA Airways currently serves six destinations in North America, with daily nonstops to Los Angeles and San Francisco, four times weekly to New York and Seattle, and three times weekly to Vancouver and Toronto. In addition, EVA Airways also serves London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Vienna in Europe. Those of us in the States now have a real alternative to fly nonstop to Taipei with Star Alliance, and also visit cities such as Kaohsiung in Southern Taiwan and Surabaya in Indonesia that were previously off limits. Best of all, EVA Airways now gives us a brand new one-stop route to many popular destinations in Southeast Asia.
With Shenzhen Airlines also becoming a full member in late 2012, Star Alliance would arguably have the best reach in all of Asia, and perhaps even trump SkyTeam in terms of domestic China routes. It also offers those of us who collect United Airlines Mileage Plus miles or US Airways Dividend miles greater ease and flexibility in redeeming for award flights in the region.