A tail parade of each of Air India's Boeing aircraft as in 2011. The 747-400, 777-300ER, 777-200LR and 737-800.
A tail parade of each of Air India's Boeing aircraft as in 2011. The 747-400, 777-300ER, 777-200LR and 737-800.

Air India finally cleared to join the Star Alliance as 27th member airline

After years of trying and suffering the ignominy of being the only airline whose membership process was suspended, national carrier Air India was approved for membership of the world’s largest airline grouping, the Star Alliance.

The final integration processes by teams at Air India, the Star alliance and its member carriers will be completed so that the first Indian carrier to join an airline alliance will take place from July 11th onwards.

Rohit Nandan, Air India Chairman and Managing Director said

“Air India worked hard to meet the exacting expectations prior to joining and today, we are elated to be inducted into the Star Alliance family. It is indeed an honour and privilege to be the first airline from India to join the alliance. We eagerly look forward to extending the benefits and privileges of Star Alliance to passengers from July 11th, 2014.”

Air India will add about 400 daily flights and 35 new destinations in India to the alliance’s network. Air India is expected to complement its domestic network to the current 13 alliance member which fly in to ten destination gateway cities in India. The existing carriers hold about 13% market share of India’s overseas traffic, a number set to increase with Air India’s induction.

Air India will be painting one of its A320 family aircraft in a special Star alliance livery. It is also expected that the carrier will get one of its flagship Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners painted in the special Star alliance scheme, but not immediately.

Air India’s Flying Returns frequent flyer members will achieve full integration with the existing member carriers’ programmes from on July 11th, 2014. Existing frequent flyers hold Star Alliance Gold elite status (commonly called *G) will receive the same lounge access, check-in at premium class counters, increased baggage allowance, and priority boarding and baggage delivery with Air India from the joining date.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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  1. Star Alliance needs a while elephant!! Here comes Air India.

    • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

      Star alliance is not a fool .it has seen Air India a year back and its condition now .there is a tremendous improvement .probably u read only newspaper articles which are for “uneducated ” people .wake up !

      • Sir, a company with a combined debt of Rs.26,000 Crores & loss of Rs.4000 Crores during 2013-14 is certainly not in the best of health. I dont think we need a Nobel prize winning economist to tell us this and even a nursery kid will well understand. Star alliance was forced to accept Air India else they would not have touched the airline with a 10 feet pole. Everyone knows that even God cannot save AI now … its is down the gutter thanks to the utter inefficiency, overstaffing and corruption that rules the airline. Service is given a damn and I can say this with conviction since I am a frequent flier. Taxpayers like us fund this inefficient company for their mistakes and no fault of ours!

      • Sumeet, please refrain from personal attacks. It is not accepted here.

        • Sumeet Pal Sodhi


          • Thanks for your understanding Sumeet, and sincere thanks for the support you give Bangalore Aviation by visiting, and sharing your thoughts.

          • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

            I being an Air indian ,am sick and tired of the lies being spread about Air India ,so I decided to educate people about it .if it has hurt sentiments ,then I am sorry .

          • Sumeet, please go ahead and share your thoughts. We welcome it. The truth about AI should be brought to the fore, and we are glad you are doing it. The only thing we enforce is claims should be factual and no indulging in personal attacks.

          • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

            Sir ,Air India has worked really hard to get into Star alliance .it has met Star alliance’s standards and it really hurts when someone who knows nothing about the inside workings ,operations of AI ,passes negative comments .

          • No doubt Air Indians have worked hard to enter Star. But why are they not working hard to bring the airline to a point where it does not require tax money funded bailouts and special privileges.

          • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

            Sir ,Rome was not built in a day .the rise in revenues is just a beginning .no doubt a lot needs to be done , but a starting has been made .look at it optimisticly .we are trying .

    • For some reason management of LH and AC are more happy to see AI in *A than most Indians. They need AI to fightback ME3’s onslaught. AI did what UA couldn’t do. UA,CO merger still not complete. AI somehow managed to deal with all unions. Wall Street constantly asking UA to cut down network and close hubs… AI did exactly that. AI also renewed its fleet and slowly starting/restarting routes.
      In my view AI (a state owned entity) did far better than a free market private corporation UA. Just my 2 cents.

  2. In a way it is good news for the traveling public, it provides more options. How will AI take advantage of this remains to be seen.

  3. Unfortunately this does no good, at least personally for me. When I travel domestically, it has no good flights out of BLR or MAA other than to DEL, essentially end up travelling on other airlines. Worse yet, between BLR and MAA, Air India is largely absent. Internationally, it doesn’t seem to have all the great coverage either.

    I guess, StarAlliance must have let them in thinking that these guys are no threat to their business in India, but letting them in satisfies Indian Government, so no harm done, rather beneficial.

    I realize that it is truly sad that I have to put up a comment like this about our national carrier, but this remains to be the truth!

    • BLR-MAA I thought was a declining air market as there is already too much capacity (with Air Asia added now too) and many choose the Shatabdi rail service or overnight buses which can be as cheap as Rs. 500.

      If anything AI focusing it’s connectivity to DEL I think is beneficial. Just cause a route may be profitable doesn’t mean it fits in the overall network strategy of the airline.

      What AI needs is a well-thought hub structure and clearly defined banks that make sense for domestic O&D and international connections, including their Star partners. My guess is for DEL, this means a departure wave at 6am domestic, 12pm Europe, 6pm domestic, and 12am East Asia. Middle east and KBL/KTM/DAC can be placed in the appropriate banks for feed.

      • 12AM Europe makes more sense for Indians. Its all closed in Europe by night. What would someone do going to Frankfurt or MXP at 6PM unless he has a connecting flight outside Europe. On the other hand India is 24/7 country. No problem to find a taxi in the middle of the night.

  4. I think almost every Indian tax-payer is frustrated with the money being poured in to Air India, and people want to see a stop to this. For Air India to survive, it has to escape the clutches of the politician-bureaucrat nexus. Whether that means a privatisation of the airline, or its closure that is the hard decision.

    • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

      Any airline spending rs 80/litre on fuel (del – new York – 120 tonnes )is going to b in loss if other expenses are also added .the public simply cannot understand this .they understand only in a few thousands of litres not lakhs of litres for a single flight ! And just look at the ridiculous cost of air tickets (.Air India is a bit pricey .)
      The politicians and to some extent the bureaucrats have corrupted and destroyed an otherwise fine company .the only company in Asia approved by Boeing and FAA for servicing its aircraft !but the politicians-bureacrat combine destroyed this too .

      • You have some valid points on the cost front and on Middle East, Singapore routes. I am more interested in the fleet utilization. Of the 12 B777-3ER s at max 9 are used on a given day. 2 are just kept as backup. 1 is under repairs. Not sure how many days it takes to repair the VT-IWA that suffered damage in Delhi airport due to heavy winds. Now AI is able to run the Singapore schedule with just one aircraft (VT-IWB ). So all these years the other aircraft is just wasted. No one knows how many pre 2007 A320s are actually working. Their ADS-B transponders are switched off for public surveillance. I do not want talk about the utilization of B744s and B777-2LRs. Now only hope is that B787s are used in an efficient manner. Already 2 or 3 aircraft (with current 15) are sitting idle per day.

    • Sir, the only way for the government is to close down this company or privatize it without any further loss of time. This is the only way to tame inefficiency and indiscipline- two main causes for the debacle of the national carrier.

  5. Here comes two schedule changes (one new and one aircraft change) for Air India
    Delhi – Moscow Domodedovo (From 18/07/2014)

    AI155 DEL0155 – 0615DME 788 x247

    AI154 DME0820 – 1530DEL 788 x247

    Mumbai – Chennai – Singapore (From 25/10/14)

    AI342 BOM2125 – 2310MAA0045+1 – 0720+1SIN 788 D

    AI343 SIN0820 – 0945MAA1110 – 1300BOM 788 D

    They were earlier planning to use B744 on Moscow route as per some news reports. But finally they went with B787. But a flight to DME instead of SVO in moscow is a compromise or a strategy is yet to be known.

    I never understand why AI cannot simultaneously run BOM-SIN and MAA – SIN schedules given other star alliance connections from SIN. Finally AI’s 15th Dreamliner VT-ANC arrived to Delhi a couple of days ago. Two more to planned to be delivered by the end of next month.

    • One thing I do not understand is that why cannot Air India deploy its 744 on high demand main stream routes. Now that it can codeshare with LH, TG, SQ on flights from their hubs, air india can fill 744s or 77Ls on DEL/BOM to Frankfurt or Bangkok or Singapore. Also i am sure a full 744 or 77L would earn more than a full 787. Even though the 747s are old BA and other airlines operate them profitably.

  6. I measure inefficiency with the following
    1. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/No-AC-on-jet-passengers-stage-dharna/articleshow/37359851.cms
    2. http://www.outlookindia.com/news/article/AI-in-Eye-of-Storm-Over-Free-Tickets-Scheme/842573
    3. http://qz.com/219494/sell-air-india-it-is-costing-us-too-much-good-money-to-keep-it-in-the-skies/

    In the case of Kingfisher airlines, just because it did not have the uninterrupted channel of the tax payer’s money, it had to crumble, but AI (financially worse off then KFA) and its employees know for sure that whatever they do, they will continue to get funded by the government and the Tax paying Indian. When an airline like Indigo can make profits, it is simply because of efficiency and good service both by their staff and crew.

    • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

      Sir ,it seems you only read newspaper reports and reports by people not connected with AI.first of all your claim that passengers were left sweating at Jammu airport due to a non functional a/c .An aircraft is a machine ,remember and machines fail sometimes .It is a common problem with new planes also and planes of international airlines other than AI also suffer .this is no point given by you .
      Regarding free and concessional tickets for AI staff and their families ,sir, you are being penny wise pound foolish .free tickets don’t contribute to the loss or airline revenues .the conditions for availing free tickets restrict the staff from availing them .only if at the end of all passenger boarding any vacant seats are left which would have otherwise gone vacant ,does the staff get it .many times the staff has to try another day .due to this horrible condition ,I myself have travelled only 3-4 times in 20 years ! And people like you believe what the newspapers say .
      And tell me ‘is times of India the aviation regulatory authority of India that I have to agree to it ‘.or other people or outlook magazine ?

      • Can’t say much to frogs in a well. No wonder AI is sinking with such inward looking people who have brought the airline to its present miserable state.

        • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

          No point wasting my precious time and resources on people like you who when faced with facts ,start calling people ,names and hide their heads in sand as an ostrich does on seeing its end .bye .

          • Mr.Sodhi… I don’t hide my head in sand as you claim( most thinngs that you claim are true lies by the way). But for sure, I shall never fly Air India again from today after this conversation with you. And this is for sure. Thanks.

          • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

            Mr .shree, you are most welcome not to fly AI again as we don’t need hypocrites like u to fly .get your facts straight before flying AI .bye .

          • This is proof why your company is sinking and most planes fly- EMPTY. Thanks

          • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

            There u go again .most flights are overbooked for your kind information .bye again .

          • Go easy on the personals Sumeet.

        • Go easy on the personals Shree.

      • Sumeet I must beg to disagree here. I have cousins who are former IC employees, and at very senior rank (chief engineer, director, etc.). Their “free” tickets’ seats are confirmed well before they travel. My brother was denied boarding in AI fully paid business class on an international flight because some senior I honcho wanted the free seats.

        Of course, the reason given, “you arrived late”. Yes he arrived late, 3 hours prior to STD on business class. So let us not denude ourselves on the reality.

        As far as interference goes, it looks like senior management of AI are suffering from Stockholm syndrome and after years complaining of government interference, actually want the minister to do their jobs? https://www.bangaloreaviation.com/2014/05/air-india-officials-want-minister-air-india.html Please share your thoughts on this too.

        • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

          My answer mistakengly went online .
          This is its continuity .
          As I said there are sycophants everywhere in all industries ,the juniors ensure confirmed free passes for their bosses .And remember i said ‘staff’and not ‘management ‘ .plus the management is accountable to no one .this ‘rot’ starts because no one takes responsibility in the management !

          • So what is the solution? I find anyone connected to Air India points fingers at everyone else.

          • Sumeet Pal Sodhi

            Sir ,someone who is sincerely interested in reviving AI is needed here ,to prevent the onslaught of the gulf airlines and to prevent the indian public from being swindled by foreign airlines .
            As I said earlier ,the ‘rot’has to be stemmed .earlier the ministers bought AI to this state (gifting of AI’s profit making sectors to gulf airlines for a consideration ,starting new sectors which if prove profitable and have considerable load ,’gift to some other airline ,and stop AI operations and the other major mistake – the merger ,which has caused infighting and heartburn –nothing else .the day the govt starts ‘thinking ‘ about AI this ‘rot’will stop and AI will return to its glorious days .
            Otherwise AI will take long to recover and public hasn’t the patience .
            They will be swindled by foreign airlines but they got no patience for AI .

  7. Siddarth Bhandary

    Better late than never. I think this is a step in the right direction for Air India. It remains to be seen how AI leverages the membership and we will know in a couple of years from now if contributes to the revival of the airline.
    One the reasons for the success of MEB3 is the number of options they provide for west bound travel and the reason for success of LH/BA/SQ is that they part of global alliances. One of the reasons i have not flown AI internationally, is that i dont get miles on either One World or Star Alliance. So i prefer SQ/Thai for east bound and LH for west bound trips. I guess this is the case with most business travellers. Hopefully this will change with AI now becoming a part of SA.
    That said i dont approve of my tax money being spent to keep the national carrier afloat, but thats for another story. For now “Congrats AI and all the best”.

  8. Sumeet Pal Sodhi

    Sir ,you are right here in saying that AI brings India to SA but you are missing a point here .when star alliance (SA) approached Govt of India initially it rejected AI’s application on the grounds of inefficiency and losses ,but this time around seeing the tremendous improvement and rising revenues (2013-14 profits rose to around 700 crores ) .I know it is peanuts but look at the silver lining .AI is improving a lot these days .

    • One has to remember things changed since the time SA rejected AI membership. The Etihad equity stake in Jet Airways and the Indian government threatening to cancel the traffic rights granted to Austrian and Swiss because they are owned by LH.

    • Sumeet, operating profits rose to 700 crores, but in fact Air India missed all of its turn-around targets. From our story https://www.bangaloreaviation.com/2014/05/analysis-air-india-misses-turnaround-targets-25-posts-rs-5000-crore-loss.html

      “The national carrier already saddled with debts exceeding Rs.40,000
      crore ($6.8 billion) has missed its turnaround target of Rs.3,989 crore
      by over 25 percent and posted a net loss of approximately Rs.5,000 crore
      ($848 million) for the fiscal year 2013~2014 ending on March 31. In the
      last fiscal (2012~2013) the carrier recorded a loss of Rs.5,198 crore.”

    • Sumeet, in addition to missing their turn-around targets one keeps hearing horror stories of how everyone including employees are fleecing Air India. Seniors take free tickets even when not entitled. Employees are stationed at off-line stations, ostensibly to promote sales, even when there is a GSA to make the sales, and not just one person but a whole fleet of people. Even at online stations there are huge numbers of people stationed despite all functions being outsourced. What are they there for? Govt. of Air India “under-taking”.

      Even today, apart from this huge tax-payer funded Rs. 30,000 cr bailout, Air India is given such huge sops like mandated government travel, extended credit from OMCs and AAI, sovereign guaranteed loans, etc.

      Sorry, but the cumulative ills of Air India are so great, there is just no sympathy for the airline. Even today, the corporate communications team behaves worse than any government department. God alone knows about the others. I have former Air Indians amongst my friends, and the infighting between him an “AI” engineer and the “IC” engineers, since Bangalore is an “IC” station was unbelievable.

      As long as the airline and by extension its employees keep sucking tax-payer money directly and indirectly, Air Indians should not expect any sympathy.

      I work very hard for my money, and I hate it being squandered on Air India. If the airline can survive without my money, great. If not, shut it down. Auction the assets to pay the debts.

  9. It is not before time that Air India finally joins an alliance, I firmly believe that the glory days of this great airline are very much in the future and with the new 787’s AI is back on the map. Good Luck to everyone at AI