Air India to join alliance after long wait

Alliance member to formally vote in London in June

Air India looks set to fulfil its longstanding ambition of joining Star Alliance now that alliance members have unanimously endorsed its entry.

Star Alliance member airlines’ CEOs will meet in London on June 23 for a formal vote, Mark Schwab, chief executive of Star Alliance confirmed.

“The precise date of joining has yet to be decided but it will be in July,” he said, adding that ensuring Air India’s hardware system is integrated with the alliance’s system comprised most of the remaining work.

Rohiot Nandan, chairman and managing director of Air India: “Air India has completed 45 of the 64 requirements already and the rest will be completed in May.”

After joining the alliance, India’s national flag carrier will align its flight times with those of the 13 Star Alliance members that serve Indian routes. Air India has asked IATA to conduct customer satisfaction surveys to monitor the airline’s service improvements.

“We are being tested against the quality of the best 16 airlines in the world and have started to show improvement,” Nandan said.

A previous bid by Air India to join the alliance fell apart because it did not meet the minimum conditions contractually agreed in December 2007. Meanwhile, SriLankan Airlines was officially admitted into oneworld on May 1, becoming the first carrier from the Indian subcontinent to join a global alliance.

TTG Asia

[pictured: Air India One; photo by José Luis Celada Euba]