Air-India Wants Three-way Alliance With Major Carriers

New Delhi, Sept 17: | Updated: Sep 18 2003, 05:30am hrs
Air-India (A-I) is eyeing a 3-way alliance with Lufthansa German Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines (UA) to increase synergy with major carriers. The mini-alliance will help the flag carrier to look at more areas of co-operation with these airlines, along with increased connectivity to the US and Europe its two most important markets, along with more returns for passengers.

We are in talks with these airlines for a kind of an alliance with Air Canada and United Airlines which will give passengers as well as the airlines more returns. This comes close on the heels of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which was signed with Lufthansa recently, a top ministry official told FE. Though specific areas of cooperation are still to be worked out, the alliance between these carriers would definitely lead to increased connectivity and a pooling of resources amongst them. It is expected to be a win-win for all, an industry observer said. Working groups have been set up to work out details of the intended cooperation, he stated. At present, Air Canada and United Airlines do not fly to India. While Air Canada is planning an entry later this year, UA has still not indicated its final intent so far.

A-I and German carrier Lufthansa have already reached a wide-ranging agreement to establish a broad-based strategic cooperation in various fields including engineering, commercial and IT services. The civil aviation secretary K Roy Paul had visited Frankfurt earlier this year to explore areas of mutual cooperation.

Industry sources said the significant tie-up between Lufthansa and A-I may lead to the latter joining the Star Alliance, of world carriers including Singapore Airlines and United Airlines. Star Alliance includes airlines like Thai Airways, United, ANA, Austrian Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Air Canada, among others. A spokesman said both airlines saw significant business opportunities to and from India and acknowledged that a close cooperation and partnership is the best way to participate in this development.

It may be pointed out that A-I had last year held talks with Air France, which is one of the major partners of SkyTeam, for a similar alliance.