Star Alliance has unanimously approved Air India’s entry into the network, set for July 11. The government-owned airline will be the first Indian carrier to join a global alliance. The entry was approved at a CEO meeting in London on Monday.
“The integration teams at Air India, Star Alliance and its member carriers will now complete the last necessary work in order to ensure that Air India can offer all Star Alliance customer benefits from July 11,” a Star Alliance statement said.
The airline was originally accepted as a future Star member in 2007, but its entry was suspended in 2011 after it failed to meet minimum joining conditions. The process was revived last year, when the airline’s government-backed turnaround plan started showing results.
Star Alliance COO Jeffrey Goh said, “We restarted the re-integration with Air India in December last year and just half a year later we are ready to confirm the official joining date. We look forward to welcoming Air India passengers to our global network and offering them our alliance benefits. At the same time, we are pleased to be providing our existing customers improved access to a region which includes the world’s fifth largest domestic aviation market.”
Air India chairman Rohit Nandan said, “Air India worked hard to meet the exacting expectations prior to joining. It is indeed an honor and privilege to be the first airline from India to join the alliance.”
Air India will add 400 daily flights and 35 new destinations in India to the Star network. The biggest growth will come from its home market, which is being served by 13 Star Alliance members flying to 10 destinations and holding a 13% market share.
Bringing Air India into the equation not only adds more airports, but also increases the alliance’s market share in India to 30%.
Air India’s entry will allow the Star Alliance network to grow to 27 members, offering about 18,500 daily flights serving 1,316 destinations in 192 countries. The Indian flag carrier has a network of 33 destinations across the US, Europe, Canada, Far East and Southeast Asia, and the Gulf.