New Delhi: In a significant decision, Air India was inducted into the Star Alliance, an exclusive club of 26 major global airlines, which would enable seamless travel for the airline's passengers to over 1,300 destinations and may increase its revenues by five per cent.
At its Chief Executive Board meeting in London on Monday, the CEOs of the alliance network unanimously approved the membership of Air India, clearing the way for the national carrier to become the first Indian airline to join a global grouping.
Teams of Air India, Star Alliance and its member carriers would complete the final works to ensure the Indian airline can offer all customer benefits from July 11, when it finally joins the grouping formally, an alliance spokesperson said.
"We are happy to note that Air India has become part of the Star Alliance. This is one of the biggest alliances in the world," Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Tuesday.
The decision put an end to a seven-year-long wait for the national carrier, with the integration process starting in December 2007 but being suspended in July 2011 to allow Air India to complete its merger with Indian Airlines before fully integrating it into the alliance network.
Asked whether the airline's privatisation was discussed at a meeting he had with Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, Raju said Air India formed "a substantive part of our discussion. All issues relating to it was discussed. No decision has been taken and I would not like to stir the hornet's nest".
Air India's revenues may increase by 4-5 percent by joining the alliance, he said, adding "it is a new beginning for Air India and we wish they fly higher than they have already flown".
To a question by when would the airline turn around, he said Air India "has had a rough time. It is premature today to put a time-frame. But there is no doubt they will emerge stronger in future, hopefully near future".
The move would help passengers to access the alliance's global network of over 21,980 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 countries. Star Alliance members jointly own 4,338 aircraft and fly over 640 million passengers a year.
First Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014, 13:38