Air India Ltd has joined the Star Alliance group of carriers, a spokesman said on Tuesday, a move that could help boost revenues at the loss-making state-run airline.
Executives at Star Alliance met with Air India officials in London on Monday and agreed for the airline, which has been in talks to join since last year, to become its 27th member, Air India spokesman Praveen Bhatnagar said.
Air India will formally complete the process by mid-July, Bhatnagar said.
Membership allows Air India to share routes with the other airlines to more than 1,200 destinations, helping it to compete with Gulf carriers like Emirates, which have increased their share of long-distance flights into and out of India.
The member airlines of Star Alliance together own a total of 4,338 aircraft and fly over 640 million passengers a year, many of whom can also earn and burn frequent flyer miles on the entire alliance network.
The membership is expected to result in several benefits for the airline and its passengers, including a hike in Air India’s share on the India-US route by about 20 per cent from about 13 per cent now within the first year itself.
The India-US route being a key market for Air India, the membership would mean that its passengers travelling to the US would have easier access to many more cities there as they would be able to seamlessly travel on other Star Alliance member airlines flights going to America.
The national carrier was originally accepted as a future member of Star Alliance in December, 2007, but the integration process was suspended in July, 2011, to allow Air India to focus on completing its merger with Indian Airlines before fully integrating it into the alliance network.