India’s national carrier Air India became the first carrier from India to become the 27th member of Star Alliance. The development came after officials of Air India and Star Alliance met in London on June 22. A seven-year long wait culminated into the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board (CEB) agreeing to give an endorsement vote to induct Air India into the Alliance. It was originally accepted as a future member in 2007. In order to allow Air India to focus on completing its merger with Indian airlines, the integration process was suspended in July 2011.
The induction into Star Alliance group means that Air India passengers will now enjoy seamless connectivity to more than 1,300 destinations across the globe as it would allow Air India to share routes with other airlines in the alliance. Passengers travelling to the US would have access to many more cities. The passengers can earn frequent flyer miles on the entire network. A total of 21980 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries will be accessible to Air India. This would help it to compete with Gulf carriers like Emirates whose long-distance flight into and out of India have increased. The Star partner Airlines, too, will get connected in India through Air India’s pan-India network.
This is a significant move for the cash- strapped Air India. The troubled airline has been at the receiving end of a lot of criticism mainly on account of its operations as it has been running into losses in recent times. In the aftermath of this move, Air India’s profits are indicated to increase by 5 percent. It’s share on India-US route is expected to rise by 20 percent from the current 13 percent.
“We are happy to note that Air India has become part of the Star Alliance. This is one of the biggest alliances in the world,” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in a conversation with reporters.
Headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany, Star Alliance is the world’s largest global airline alliance. It was founded in 1997 by its five founding members, namely, Scandinavian Airlines, Thai Airways, Air Canada, Lufthansa and United Airlines. Its members have more than 18,000 flights, carrying more than 640 million passengers. It has a fleet of about 4338 airlines.
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