New Delhi, Oct 9: Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh Tuesday said Air India will hold talks with German carrier Lufthansa for entry into the global inter-airline pact Star Alliance, which last year had put off the passenger carrier’s induction into its fold.
“We are going to talk to Lufthansa about the induction plan under which Air India was supposed to have joined the Star Alliance. We will ask them to honour the plan that was decided. We are going to ask them to look at it again,” Singh said at the Economic Editors’ conference here.
In August last year, Star Alliance had put off Air India’s entry into the 27-airlines global alliance as its executive board was unable to decide on the induction date. The airline was facing labour and integration issues at that time.
The national carrier was invited to join Star Alliance in December 2007 in Beijing, with Lufthansa as the sponsor. But delays in software and other operational integration after the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India had put paid to the plan.
Singh said the government was not opposed to two Indian carriers joining Star Alliance at the same time, as recent reports have suggested that Jet Airways was interested in joining the pact.
“They both can join in together. We have no issues if two Indian carriers join the alliance.”
According to senior Air India official, the national carrier has met most parameters for induction like single code. It has also deposited some $10 million and allowed code-sharing with the German carrier.
“We have provided a number of facilities like code-share because of which Lufthansa now operates from 11 Indian cities on our code. All this was done to faciliate our entry into the Star Alliance,” the official said.
However, on Aug 1, 2011 Star Alliance in a letter to the Air India chairman and managing director said that its executive board was unable to decide on the induction date. It gave no other reason.
Global interline packs like Star Alliance and Oneworld entail several benefits to member carriers like improved product offering, better service standards, access to new markets and premium customers and partnership with leading global carriers.
Such pacts also allow sharing of airport lounges across airports, common rewards schemes and synchronised flight schedules that will permit seamless travel for a passenger on a single air ticket, even if it requires flying several carriers on a single journey.