Air India Board takes stock of induction ceremony preparations

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 27 2014, 01:00am hrs
Air IndiaThe induction ceremony here would be attended by top officials of all the 26 Star Alliance partner airlines. (Photo: AP)
Air India Board today took stock of the preparations for the formal ceremony to become part of the Star Alliance on July 11, as its chief Rohit Nandan said the passengers would experience new standards of service from that day.

The Board, at its meeting, reviewed the tasks to be completed before July 11, which also include painting the Star Alliance livery on two Air India planes -- a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and an Airbus A-320 -- signifying the national carrier's international and domestic operations.

The induction ceremony here would be attended by top officials of all the 26 Star Alliance partner airlines.

The entire protocol right from check-in to boarding and in-flight meal experience, particularly for the business and first class passengers, would undergo "visible change" from then as new standards in line with Star Alliance facilities would be put in place from then, Nandan said earlier.

Asked whether these changes would be across the entire Air India network, he said "yes. We are starting with five cities -- Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad".

His comments came after the Chief Executive Board of the exclusive airlines' club unanimously decided to induct Air India as the 27th member of Star Alliance.

Jeffery Goh, Chief Operating Officer of Star Alliance, said at the moment, 13 Star Alliance member airlines fly to India and Air India would add 35 global destinations to the network, apart from opening up its 62 domestic destinations.

It would also take the international air traffic market share in and out of India from 13 per cent at present to 30 per cent, he said.

From the day Air India joins the global airlines group, a passenger can access all destinations offered by the entire Star Alliance network of over 21,980 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries. Star Alliance members jointly own 4,338 aircraft and fly over 640 million passengers a year.

Regarding the new standards of service which would be implemented, the Air India chief said, "As far as business and first class passengers are concerned, I am sure there will be a visible change."

"Their check-in will be a completely different experience. Boarding too will also change from July 11. It will be faster and it will be done row-wise. Premium and first class passengers will get priority which is not there today.

"Besides, passengers of Star Alliance partners will also get priority boarding. The entire protocol of boarding will undergo a change from July 11," Nandan said.

On the meals on board an international flight, he said a three-course service, now offered in the First Class, would be introduced in business class as well on all international flights, apart from improving the entire menu for economy as well.

Goh said the passengers would also be able to earn and redeem miles across the Alliance. "So if you are an Air India frequent flyer programme member today and if you fly with any of the 26 Alliance airline, you will be able to earn and redeem your miles on any of them."

The frequent flyer would also get extra baggage allowance, access to over 1,000 lounges and early delivery of baggage, the Star Alliance COO said.