The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Star Alliance on India recce

Washington, June 1 (PTI): Star Alliance, the global integrated airline network, is “looking at” Air-India (A-I), Indian Airlines (IA) and Jet Airways to include one of them in its network.

“We are having a serious look at all the three airlines and at one time A-I had sent us feelers,” said Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht on the sidelines of the network’s media colloquium here this weekend.

Describing India and China as the most emerging markets which cannot be ignored, the Frankfurt-based Alliance CEO said he will soon be “engaging the three airlines in talks”.

He said a product and safety audit is carried out threadbare before a final decision is taken which could be anywhere between nine and 12 months.

“We do not look at the airline, whether it is government-owned or private, as Star Alliance provides a host of consumer benefits for the international passenger even as each airline maintains its individual identity, culture and traditional character,” he added.

Industry observers here are expecting that Jet may be short-listed because of its product and newest fleet of aircraft.

Incidentally, the newly appointed chief executive of Jet, Wolfgang Proch-Schaur, who takes over later this week in Mumbai, was the chairman of management board of Star Alliance.

When contacted, Wolfgang, who was here in connection with the felicitation of CEOs of Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines by Star Alliance on their retirements, expressed happiness that Jet was also being considered along with IA and A-I for inclusion in the Alliance network.

Star Alliance was established in May 1997 by five leading carriers and today has 16 members with the latest entrant being US Airways whose application was unanimously approved by the Alliance board yesterday.

With the addition of US Airways the number of airports served by the network rises from 700 to 771, while the number of nations will grow to 133 from 128.

Albrecht said airlines belonging to Russia and China were being looked into subject to their respective government approvals.

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