The Telegraph
Wednesday , June 25 , 2014
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Airline pact gains altitude

Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju (centre) with Star Alliance COO Jeffrey Goh and Air India CMD Rohit Nandan in New Delhi on Tuesday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwaha

New Delhi, June 24: Star Alliance — a global grouping of leading international airlines — is open to inducting one more Indian carrier.

The alliance today announced that Air India would join them on July 11.

The new member is likely to be a low-cost airline.

Air India will be the 27th member of Star Alliance. Joining the group will enable the passengers of the state-run airline to travel seamlessly to over 1,300 destinations. The alliance’s members include Lufthansa, Air Canada, US carrier United, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Air China, All Nippon Airways, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines.

The decision on Air India’s membership was taken after a meeting of the heads of the alliance members in London on Monday, while civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju made the formal announcement today. “We are happy to note that Air India has become part of the Star Alliance. Air India’s revenues may increase by 4-5 per cent by joining the alliance,” he said.

Though Star Alliance officials did not name any particular airline, they said India was a vast country and more carriers needed to be inducted into its network.

“India is a huge country and we are keen on inducting at least one more airline as we need to expand our network in the country. We are not actively talking to any airline but talks can happen in the near future. If an LCC (low-cost carrier) fulfils our needs and criteria then it could well be inducted. No-frill carriers play a very important role in India and we are open to inducting one,” Star Alliance chief operating officer Jeffrey Goh said.

Industry insiders believe that the international body might look at Indigo or recently launched Air Asia India and even Tata-SIA airline.