Air India joins Star Alliance

Air India has formally been inducted into the Star Alliance, an international club of 26 airlines, facilitating seamless travel for the national carrier's passengers to over 1,300 destinations across the world.

Air India AirlinesStar Alliance, which has a number of major international airlines, including Lufthansa, Air Canada and Thai Airways as its members, decided to accord membership status to Air India at the end of a meeting of the board of chief executives of the member airlines in London on Monday.

Minister for civil aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju made the formal announcement of Air India joining the alliance in New Delhi today.

The Star Alliance has a network of over 21,900 daily flights to 1,328 cities in 195 countries and a combined fleet strength of over 4,700 aircraft.

With Air India becoming a part of Star Alliance, any passenger boarding an Air India flight from any airport in India will be able to travel seamlessly to any place in the Middle East, Europe or the Americas with connecting flights provided by the alliance partners.

Air India will start deriving all the benefits of Star Alliance membership from 11 July after a wait of over 11 years.

The Indian national carrier, which was first inducted into the Star Alliance in Beijing in December 2007, has seen many ups and downs since then and its application for membership was put on hold in August 2011 for failure to meet certain parameters contractually agreed to in 2007.

With Monday's nod Air India will become the first Indian carrier to be inducted into a global airline alliance.

The three global airline alliances – Star Alliance, Oneworld and Skyteam - have been wooing various Indian carriers over the years.

India is a huge and growing market and most international airlines find it difficult to penetrate every nook and corner of the country and this is one reason for the various alliances to woo Indian carriers.

Oneworld  has 15 airlines and 30 affiliate airlines, including British Airways, Japan Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Sri Lankan Airlines, Cathey Pacific, Finnair, Qatar Air, as members as members serving 150 countries.

Skyream has 20 member airlines, including Aeroflot, Delta, Air France, China Airlines, Korean Air, Saudia and Vietnam Airlines serving 1,064 destinations.

Star Alliance said since India is a very big country, it has made it clear to Air India that there could be more than one airline from India in the global airline body.

"We remain open to more airlines joining. Whether it is Jet Airways or someone else we don't know," Jeffery Goo, COO, Star Alliance, said.