Air India should join Star Alliance, a global network of airlines by this summer, Star Alliance Chief Executive Officer Mark F. Schwab has said.
Air India was invited to join the global airline alliance once again in December last year following a meeting of the chief executives of the various airlines who are members of Star Alliance in Vienna.
“The Indian market is evolving and quickly. We have been carefully watching the progress and transformation of Air India. The airline has gone through a difficult merger and has now started executing a fleet renewal plan. Our job in Star Alliance is to create connectivity,” Schwab had said late on Sunday night on Air India joining the Alliance.
Schwab also revealed that there could be another airline from India which could be a member of the Alliance but added that at the moment Star Alliance was not having active discussions for getting a second Indian carrier into the Alliance.
Tata-SIA joint venture
The CEO, however, refused to comment on whether the yet to be set up Tata-SIA joint venture could be the obvious choice for being the second Indian carrier to be a member of the Alliance from India.
“We will have to see who adds value to the alliance,” he added.
In December 2007, Air India was inducted into Star Alliance after a meeting of the CEOs board in Beijing. But in August 2011, the airline’s application for membership of the alliance was put on hold as it did not meet the minimum joining conditions that had been contractually agreed to in December 2007.
Both Air India and Star Alliance, however, declined to give a specific date by when the state-owned carrier will become an Alliance member.
“Air India joining the Alliance will complete about 30 months of hard work. Joining the alliance will enhance our brand value and provide more connectivity to our passengers,” Rohit Nandan, Chairman and Managing Director of Air India, said.
Before Air India joins Star Alliance, it will have to complete a number of steps, including training its front-office staff, apart from phasing in Star Alliance livery like having the alliance logo on its planes.
Nandan also said that the airline will support the entry of a second Indian carrier into Star Alliance.
The Alliance, which was created in 1997, to better meet the needs of frequent international travellers, today serves over 1,300 airports globally with a combined fleet strength of the members being over 4,700 aircraft.
The Alliance, through its member airlines has a presence in over 195 countries.