All of Star’s 18-member airlines have to approve the entry. Air-India’s entry is likely to be championed by Star Alliance founder member Lufthansa, which already has a close relationship with the Indian carrier through codesharing.
Air-India’s inclusion in the grouping underlines the growing potential of the Indian aviation market. Passenger numbers at domestic and international airports grew by 28% in ’05-06, among the highest in the world.
The Star Alliance CEO has earlier said that “India, Russia and China are white spots on the Star alliance network that need to be filled.” Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline grouping, currently runs 16,930 daily flights to 842 airports in 152 countries around the world.
Elaborating on the major benefits of the alliance for Air-India, airline sources said it would lead to a partnership with member airlines on issues ranging from marketing to joint sourcing of spares and fuel, potentially leading to a huge saving of millions of dollars.
Member airlines have an integration of airline frequent flier programmes, which is a major marketing tool for airlines. Miles can be earned and redeemed on all members of the Alliance at the same level.
Premium customers have access to all members’ airport lounges. As the integration among members progress, flight schedules are co-ordinated to permit almost seamless travel which may include several different carriers within the alliance, on a single ticket.
Over the years Air-India’s global network has shrunk such that it is now largely focussed on the Gulf, parts of western Europe and four cities in the United States. The entry into the alliance will allow it to offer a much larger choice to its passengers.
Air-India is also scheduled to begin a huge expansion resulting in the induction of 68 aircraft worth over $11bn over the next six years. The airline’s marketshare that has gone down to about 19% of the Indian overseas passenger market is expected to improve substantially.
“The merged entity formed after the merger of Indian Airlines and Air-India will eventually find place in the alliance that provides the widest airline network in the world today,” a highly placed Air-India source said.
However, the process of integration into the alliance could take up to a year after it is approved. South African Airways was the most recent airline that joined the alliance in April this year. Airlines have to upgrade systems to certain common standards before the entry is permitted.
Proving once again that it's quantity not quality for *A. It's disappointing that *A seems very keen of late to recruit third tier members. Actually, with the inclusion of such illustrious carriers like AI and CA, coupled with existing members like LO, TP and JK - the average quality of *A seems to be dipping below that of ST if not for shining stars like SQ, NZ, LX to drag the average back up. Alliance members or not, AI is one carrier I wouldn't be flying.
Hopefully 9W joins OW but they don't seem to keen on alliances.
Edited by Keith T, 15 October 2007 - 11:27 AM.