Alliance watchers will soon know whether or not Air India will finally join the Star Alliance.
Four years have now passed since Star Alliance first mooted Air India as a prospective member. Full membership was supposed to have become a reality by last year but the issue has been dogged by delays with Air India meeting the alliance’s standards. And now Star seems to be running out of patience with India’s national airline.
According to respected industry publication Aviation Week, Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht has told Air India that it has until July 31 to meet the requirements for membership or else the invitation will be withdrawn. Says Albrecht, “The process for Air India to fulfil its requirements has now taken nearly four years. We will not extend this deadline anymore. One day there must be a final point.”
Air India resumed flights on Monday following a 10-day strike by some of its pilots when over 1,000 flights had to be cancelled, costing the carrier an estimated US$3.3 million (see online news May 8).
Whether or not Air India will be able to meet the July 31 deadline is a moot point. But it has modernised its fleet and updated its product and image in recent times. It has also done a lot of work in IT linkages with domestic carrier Indian Airlines.
Star’s Jaan Albrecht is hopeful that Air India will meet the deadline, “Acquiring membership is a complex process,” he told Aviation Week. “By the end of July we will have a clear vision of where Star and Air India stand.”
For more information visit staralliance.com.
Report by Alex McWhirter