Air India sets July deadline for Star Alliance membership

New Delhi: Buffeted by huge internal problems flag carrier, Air India, is now set to join Star Alliance, a global airlines grouping, by July. Top airline sources said the carrier had completed all formalities and also readied its brand book for its entry into the alliance.

They said entry details were likely to be finalised next week.

According to airline sources, an AI team will be in Frankfurt next month to conclude negotiations on joining the Alliance.

Star Alliance had mandated 80 conditions for AI and sources said most of these had been met. Through the alliance, Air India will access 1,160 airports and 181 global destinations.

Membership in Star Alliance will enable the airline to offer passengers last mile connectivity in foreign countries.  Currently, the airline is losing money on long-haul destinations as it is unable provide onward connections to other cities in foreign countries. Airline officials say AI loses atleast Rs one-two crore a day as passengers prefer other airlines with last mile connections.

Lack of onward connections increases the total fare for Air India customers. The average fare on an Indo-US route varies between Rs45,000-50,000, but an Air India passenger may have to pay more than Rs65,000 to cover the remaining journey beyond New-York and Chicago because of a lack of last mile connectivity from Air India.