Air India is set to join Star Alliance
India's national carrier Air India is set to become a member of Star Alliance, a 26-member global airlines network that will give its passengers seamless access to over 1,200 destinations around the world.
An announcement is likely tomorrow.
Top officials of Star Alliance are meeting in London today to decide on Air India's membership, which will pave the way for the integration of all its systems, including ticket booking and flight scheduling, into a global network of over 18,000 flights to 1,269 airports in 193 countries.
The Star Alliance includes top airlines like Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, South African Airways, Austrian, THAI, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.
Reports suggest Air India posted a net loss of Rs.5,100 crore in the last financial year and has debts of nearly Rs.40,000 crore on its books, a situation it hopes to remedy by entering the top airlines' club.
Air India's membership would give its passengers traveling to the US easier access to many more cities through other Star Alliance members operating in America.
Passengers can earn and burn frequent flyer miles on the entire alliance network and also access lounges of other airlines at various airports.
As a member of the alliance, Air India will be able to code share with 26 other airlines, which means that a passenger can make single bookings across multiple airlines.
Official say, for example, if there is no direct flight from Delhi to Cuba, Air India, as part of the Star Alliance, can provide a ticket to Havana, in combination with Air Canada.
A passenger also doesn't need to worry about luggage transfer, which will take place seamlessly between airlines.
When it joins the alliance, Air India will have one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners and an Airbus A-320 - signifying its international and domestic operations - painted with the Star Alliance logo and livery for the induction ceremony.
Star Alliance in 2007 accepted Air India as a future member of the network but kept it on hold amid the airline's restructuring and merger with Indian Airlines at a time it was struggling with rising debts and loss of passengers to private carriers.