At the Directors General of Civil Aviation conference being held in New Delhi, India’s civil aviation minister, Mr. Ajit Singh said that his ministry would once again seek the help of German carrier Deutsche Lufthansa for Air India to enter (may be re-entry) the Star Alliance. In August, the world’s largest grouping of airlines had rejected the national carrier’s application to join the network.
The minister also offered a carrot saying, that the ministry was open to Air India and Jet Airways joining the alliance at the same time. The Star Alliance has already invited Jet Airways to become a member, but the private Indian carrier has not yet initiated formal steps to becoming a member.
The Economic Times reports and quotes the minister
Civil Aviation minister told media that Lufthansa, which is the founding member of Star Alliance, was given a lot of benefits to ensure that Air India joins the grouping.
“I believe a lot of facilities were given to the airline (Lufthansa) so that it would mentor Air India to join Star Alliance. They were given a lot of flights, it was made almost open skies for them. Now we are going to talk to Lufthansa to adhere to the plan we had,” Singh said.
This is an exposè of a very serious nature. As AJ from Live from a Lounge puts it
The Government of India, being the interested party, and the owner of Air India, gave away national property (bilateral rights to fly) bringing in a lot of Lufthansa flights to India, just to ensure Air India got into the alliance.
At a time when the country is abuzz with unchecked distribution of natural resources like Coalgate and Spectrum, unbridled granting of bi-lateral air services capacity is a serious charge, one that has been previously levelled on the ministry when Praful Patel was at the helm, by an organisation no less, than the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. But then, coming to think of it, the statement by Mr. Ajit Singh relates to the time when Mr. Praful Patel WAS the minister of civil aviation.
Mr. Singh also informed that the ministry was looking at the all the existing bilateral Air Services Agreements, and exploring if the limitation of aircraft type could be removed. Such a move would mostly benefit existing middle eastern operators to India Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad, along with Singapore Airlines and possibly Lufthansa.