Air India Airbus A320 VT-ESF in Star Alliance livery. Photo copyright Uday Krishna. Used with permission.
Air India Airbus A320 VT-ESF in Star Alliance livery. Photo copyright Uday Krishna. Used with permission.

Air India joins the Star Alliance

A long chased ambition of the national carrier came to fruition on July 11, as it was inducted as the 27th member of the Star Alliance. It is the first Indian carrier to join a global alliance of airlines. The first from the sub-continent is SriLankan Airlines which joined the oneworld alliance.

(L-R) EGYPTAIR CEO Sameh El Hefny Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Kotil Singapore Airlines CEO Choon Phong Goh Air India CMD Rohit Nandan Austrian Airlines CEO Jaan Albrecht Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab
(L-R) EGYPTAIR CEO Sameh El Hefny Turkish Airlines CEO Temel Kotil Singapore Airlines CEO Choon Phong Goh Air India CMD Rohit Nandan Austrian Airlines CEO Jaan Albrecht Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab

The airline decorated one its older Airbus A320s, VT-ESF, with the special Star Alliance livery to showcase its entry. One of its new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners too will be painted in the special livery prior to delivery.

Air India Airbus A320 VT-ESF in special Star Alliance livery.
Air India Airbus A320 VT-ESF in special Star Alliance livery.

Air India will add about 400 daily flights to 40 new destinations in India to the alliance’s network. With Air India the Star Alliance network offers 18,500 daily flights to 1,316 destinations in 192 countries. Currently 13 Star member airlines fly to India, which hold about 13% share of India’s international traffic between themselves. Air India will add another 17% share to take the tally to 30%. In comparison, the largest single international airline in India, Emirates, has about 12% market share just by itself.

Air India cabin crew. Photo courtesy Star.
Air India cabin crew. Photo courtesy Star.

Internationally, Air India has a limited network, but will offer connections to mentor Lufthansa on the Australia route. Air India may be able to leverage its USA, UK, Japan and Hong Kong routes with member airlines to develop its reach.

Passenger benefits of Air India’s Star membership

Air India will offer through check-in to the final destination for connecting flights operated by any Star Alliance member airline for both passengers and baggage, however, this is subject to customs and immigration regulations at the transit and final destinations.

The biggest benefit to both passengers and Air India will come from integration of Air India’s Flying Returns frequent flyer programme, with those of existing Star member carriers. Flying Returns’ Maharajah Club or Golden Edge Club elite members will automatically attain Star Alliance Gold elite status, giving them access to more than 1,000 lounges across the global network, priority counter check-in, increase baggage allowance, and priority baggage handling. Air India will provide the same benefits to Star Gold elite status members from the frequent flyer programs of other airlines.

The Star Alliance logo, adorning VT-ESF of Air India.
The Star Alliance logo, adorning VT-ESF of Air India.

Air India will also participate in several of the Alliance’s fare products and business solutions, latest by July 2014.

For the business travel sector, Air India flights can be included in Star Alliance Corporate Plus agreements, which are aimed at large multinational companies. For the Conventions and Meetings market, Air India will now offer Star Alliance Conventions Plus and Meetings Plus, the dedicated products for the meetings and conventions industry, and participate in the Star RTW (round the world) fare, the Circle Pacific fare and the Asia Airpass.

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.

Check Also

How to book a repatriation flight from India to USA, UK and Singapore

When the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) announced repatriation flights to bring people back to …

Air India Airbus A320 VT-EXC.

Fares for repatriation flights to India

Yesterday a schedule for the first seven days of repatriation flights to India were released. …