The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 21 , 2014
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Air India drill to join Star Alliance

New Delhi, Jan. 20: Air India will join Star Alliance this summer, the global network’s chief executive Mark F. Schwab said today.

Star Alliance is a group of 28 global airlines offering common services.

“Without giving a specific date, one can say that we will complete the work (to be carried out by Air India to join the alliance) by this summer. After that, they will be ready to join straightaway,” Schwab said.

Joining the alliance is crucial to Air India’s turnaround. The national carrier had started working on the technical formalities from 2007 and was supposed to join the alliance in 2010. However, the airline found it difficult to meet membership standards, especially those relating to IT system integration. In August 2011, the alliance had announced that it was suspending Air India’s integration into its network.

In December last year, the alliance decided to lift a suspension of the process for Air India’s entry into the group.

The membership will enable Air India passengers to enjoy seamless travel across the world. Besides, the state-run carrier can enjoy more frequent flyer mileage points, code sharing leading to a wider choice of flights and access to facilities at over 1,000 lounges worldwide.

Schwab said Air India was training all the frontline staff to meet the alliance’s service standards.

Air India will also have to get its fleet painted with the alliance livery and logo.

Air India chairman and MD Rohit Nandan said joining the alliance would significantly improve customer services, frequent flyer programme and brand value, besides providing seamless connectivity to travellers. “Air India’s joining the alliance will complete about 30 months of hard work. It will enhance our brand value and provide more connectivity to our passengers.”

Schwab said there could be another airline from India in the alliance but they were not having any discussions with another carrier.

Jet Airways was earlier planning to enter the alliance.

“We will support the entry of a second carrier in good faith,” Nandan said.

On whether the Tata-Singapore Airlines (SIA) venture could be a prospective candidate as SIA was a prominent member of the alliance, Schwab said the proposed carrier should start operating first and “it is not necessarily an obvious choice”.