Star Alliance accepts Air India as a future member

Completing a decade of existence, the Star Alliance is set for further expansion by adding three large Asian airlines to its membership. Even as Air China and Shanghai Airlines formally joined the alliance, the CEOs of the alliance's member airlines voted to approve Air India's application to become a future member. The decision was taken at the annual Star Alliance board meeting in Beijing.

The new members increase the alliance's list of full members to 19 carriers. With the addition of the two Chinese airlines, the Star Alliance will offer some 17,000 daily flights to 897 destinations in 160 countries.

Also, Air China and Shanghai Airlines have added more than 40 new Chinese domestic destinations to the Star Alliance network.

The Star Alliance has evolved a two-hub strategy in China, concentrating on improving the major hub airports Beijing Capital and Shangai-Pudong to provide better connections between international flights and Chinese domestic destinations.

Speaking of the Star Alliance CEOs' vote to accept Air India's membership application, board meeting chairman Glenn Tilton, CEO of United Airlines, said: "India has long been on the radar of Star Alliance – after all, it is one of the world's fastest-growing economies and aviation markets. Having now come to an agreement with Air India makes us the first airline alliance to secure a member in India."

Post merger with state-owned domestic operator Indian Airlines, Air India will have a fleet consisting of 115 aircraft. The airline is currently mulling plans to add a further 100 aircraft to the fleet.

In addition to its 19 existing full members, the Star Alliance also recently welcomed Slovenia's Adria Airways, Finland's Blue1 and Croatia Airlines as regional members.
With Air India's application the Star Alliance is set to grow to 22 full members, having previously accepted applications by EgyptAir and Turkish Airlines to become future members.