Q. I was at an airport in Canada a few weeks ago and noticed an airline called “Star Alliance.” Is that a new airline? I had never heard of it or seen it before.

A. No, it’s not a new airline. Star Alliance is an alliance of several major and smaller airlines that have joint marketing agreements. It’s similar to two other alliances, SkyTeam and OneWorld, which are both smaller than Star Alliance. What you noticed is that airlines are repainting some of their planes with the logos of these alliances. Some industry observers predict that eventually these allied airlines will morph into a super-consolidated airline across international borders, although current laws and treaties prevent this from happening and such a consolidation might be decades off, if indeed it ever happens. Personally, I think it’s time to reconsider laws that prevent full ownership by a U.S. airline of a foreign carrier and vice versa. After all, the auto industry is allowed to consolidate across international borders (Fiat’s purchase of Chrysler for example), as are most other industries.

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