Air India's integration process on track: Star Alliance

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 28 2014, 20:50pm hrs
Air IndiaPost its induction into the alliance, Air India will become the 29th member of Star Alliance. Reuters
The integration process for Air India into global airline group Star Alliance is proceeding smoothly, said a senior executive of Frankfurt-based Star Alliance on Thursday.

I can say with full confidence that the integration process (of Air India) into Star Alliance is on track and working by, said Christian Klick, VP, Corporate Office, Star Alliance Services.

Executives of state-owned Air India had earlier told FE that the airline was expected to complete its integration into the alliance by summer by May-June this year.

Post its induction into the alliance, Air India will become the 29th member of Star Alliance, which is also the world's largest airline partnership with almost $200 billion in combined revenues.

Klick added that Star Alliance and India's flag carrier have agreed on a joint implementation to get several parameters like IT systems and contracts (for economic transactions) working in a specified time.

There are a number of parameters that needs to be implemented when a new carrier like Air India come on board of Star Alliance. All these things are taking some time, he said explaining the flag carrier's integration process.

During December 2007, Star Alliance had accepted Air India as its future member, only to halt the integration process in July 2011 citing that the airline couldn't meet some of the alliance's required parameters.

Air India joining the Alliance will complete about 30 months of hard work. Joining the alliance will enhance our brand value and provide more connectivity to our passengers, Rohit Nandan, CMD of Air India, had told at a press conference in Delhi on January.

The state-owned carrier had also announced its plans to retrain over 8,000 front-line personnel, as a part of the process, over the next few months for a more premium customer experience that matches Star Alliance's standards.

Air India's integration into a global alliance, a first for a domestic airline, will help it boost revenues by increasing global connectivity through partner airlines. It will also be able to improve its share of business travelers by gaining access to over 1,000 Star Alliance lounges and lower fuel costs by doing bulk purchases through Star Alliance tie-ups. The country's flag carrier will also be able to fly on a network of 21,900 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries and redeem air miles on airlines such as Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, US Airways, United Airlines and others.

This time around, post the integration of Air India, a second Indian carrier could also be inducted into the alliance.

I can't rule out te fact that we could induct a second Indian airline in future. But, I can't speculate at the moment as to how this will pan out, he said, adding, Indian aviation market is huge and constantly changing. What has not changed though is that it remains one of the most important aviation market in the world.

However, Klick said that the gourp is not in talks with IndiGo for a possible induction into the alliance putting rest to speculation about that the market leaders could get a coveted berth on the alliance.

Klick though indicated that Star Alliance which consists of only full-service carriers could in future induct low cost carriers from across the world.

There is no scope for Low cost Carriers (LCCs) to join Star alliance now. But, we can't rule this out in future and currently we are discussing on this issue, he added.

Benefits that Air India can avail after becoming a member of Star Alliance:

1. Improve its share of business travelers by gaining access to over 1,000 Star Alliance lounges

2. Fly on a network of 21,900 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries

3. Redeem air miles on 28 airlines including Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Singapore Airlines Ltd, US Airways and United Airlines.

4. Save up on fuel costs by doing bulk purchases through Star Alliance tie-ups.

5. Avail Star's Move Under One Roof (MUOR) feature, which includes member airlines coming together to share common ticketing and check in counters apart from lounges, baggage facilities and other services at select airports like Heathrow (London) and Frankfurt among the others.