Safety, maintenance row may stall AIs Star Alliance entry

Written by Nirbhay Kumar | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 27 2011, 07:01am hrs
Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht has expressed fear that some of the member airlines may raise objections to Air India joining the global airline grouping as and when the proposal comes before the executive committee for approval. The CEO has based his concerns on a series of letters written by Air India's employees in which they have allegedly said that the airline is compromising on safety and maintenance in the face of liquidity crunch.

Star Alliance CEO met the aviation secretary and the Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav last week and said that some of the alliance members may raise objections to the airlines entry blaming it on pilots' letters, official sources said.

As per the official, the Star Alliance boss stressed that there was every likelihood of member CEOs vetoing Air India's entry.

An Air India official, however termed the pilots allegations as baseless and motivated saying the airline would join Star Alliance shortly.

We have complied with all the mandatory requirements for joining the carrier, the official said adding the aviation ministry has termed the issues allegedly raised by pilots as irrelevant.

The 27-member Star Alliance had given Air India July 31 deadline for meeting nearly 78 conditions for being eligible to join it. The airline's entry has already been delayed by nearly 18 months, resulting into loss of business opportunity.

Star Alliance had in December 2007 invited Air India to join the worlds biggest airline club but factors like delay in having a single code for erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India and migration to an integrated passenger reservation system caused the flag carrier to miss the deadline.

Air Indias integration with Star Alliance member network would increase its revenue by 10-15% annually. It would also help the carrier reduce cost as it would share airport infrastructure like lounge and hanger with Star Alliance members.

After joining the airline grouping, Air India will be able to provide seamless travel to its customers.

Passengers would be able to travel from one of the continent to another on single boarding pass. All the Star Alliance members together operate in 181 countries with 21,000 daily departures.