PUTTING an end to months of speculation, Air India is set to become the 27th member of Star Alliance on July 11, announced India's civil aviation minister at a news conference yesterday.
Minister, Ashok Gajaputhi Raju, said: “Air India’s entry into Star Alliance would facilitate its access to a vast global network, offering it wider reach and seamless transfers for its travellers. The alliance will benefit Air India in terms of adoption of global best practices and branding. The extensive Star Alliance network will strengthen Air India’s overseas operations, linking it to its extensive domestic network.”
Air India’s formal induction will take place on July 11 alongside the unveiling of the Star Alliance logo and livery on the carrier’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner and an Airbus A320.
The Indian flag carrier adds 400 daily flights and 35 new destinations in India to the alliance network, bringing Star Alliance’s market share in the country to 30 per cent.
Vishal Bhadola, associate manager, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) India, commented: “Air India can now generate more revenue due to a wider network to sell through more codeshares and more feed/de-feed options for transfer traffic.
“CAPA estimates a two to three per cent increase in Air India revenue once the integration is complete as the alliance will help its network...Air India will also save costs as it will get access to shared resources at airports worldwide such as lounges, manpower, equipment, etc.”
While welcoming the move, Rajji Rai, chairman of Uniglobe Swiftravel, cautioned: “Air India needs to raise its service standards if it wants to make the most of being a part of Star Alliance network.”
Air India’s entry into Star Alliance, a longstanding ambition that was put on hold for three years, was put into motion when alliance members unanimously endorsed its entry in May (TTG Asia e-Daily, May 5, 2014).