National carrier Air India is likely to join the 28-member Star Alliance by June this year.
“Without giving a specific date, one can say that we will complete all the ground work and formalities of Air India’s entry into the Star Alliance club by this summer. After that, they will be ready to join straightaway,” says Star Alliance CEO Mark F. Schwab.
Integration into the global alliance, a first for an Indian airline, will help debt-ridden Air India boost its revenue by increasing global connectivity through partner airlines.
It will also be able to increase its share of business travellers by gaining access to over 1,000 Star Alliance lounges, and lower fuel costs by making bulk purchases through Star Alliance tie-ups. The Star Alliance has a combined fleet strength of over 4,700 aircraft.
Another Indian airline also could become a member of the Star Alliance soon, Schwab hints, though at the moment the alliance is not having any active discussions in this regard.
Asked whether the yet-to-be launched Tata-Singapore Airlines (Tata-SIA Airlines) joint venture could be the obvious choice for being the second Indian carrier, he quips, “we will have to see who adds value to the Alliance.”
In 2007, Air India was accepted as a future member of Star Alliance. However, the integration process was halted in July 2011 to enable it to complete the merger with erstwhile Indian Airlines.
The national carrier was again invited to join the global alliance in December last year, following a meeting of the chief executives of the airlines that are members of Star Alliance in Vienna.