AI may slap compensation claim on Star Alliance

New Delhi: Both Air India and Star Alliance have begun to blow hot and cold over the recent fiasco relating to Air India's stalled membership of the alliance. Even as they profess to have no issues over reviving talks over the carrier's failed membership bid, there is also talk about AI getting tough over the matter and recovering the huge membership fees paid to the alliance and also filing claims for compensation over the amounts expended by it in trying to get compliant.

Star Alliance, an alliance of global airlines, announced last week that it was ''suspending'' Air India's integration into its network claiming the carrier had failed to fulfil criteria it had agreed to.

It is being given to understand that AI has asked Star the reason for suspending their membership application. ''AI had met all the criteria. Any decision on taking it forward would be taken only after the Alliance's reply,'' an unnamed senior civil aviation ministry official has been quoted as saying.

AI had also paid euro 10 million (Rs55 crore) as joining fee to Star and has now asked for a refund. It may also file for compensation for the investments it made (about $5-10mn) to join the alliance.

''The alliance will have to give the money back to Air India. They may say that the money was used in mentoring AI in joining the alliance and various other things but what is the point of all that when the airline did not join the alliance?'' the ministry official was quoted as saying.

But the fact that both parties are now playing the blow hot, blow cold act becomes evident with Air India and Star Alliance officials hinting that talks to get into the Star Alliance could be revived. ''Both we and Star have decided to meet and discuss of our suspension, even when we had fulfilled all the 87 criteria required to join the alliance,'' a senior AI official has been quoted as saying.