After long wait, Air India set to gain entry into Star Alliance

Air IndiaEntry into Star alliance would ensure shared benefits to Air India and seamless travel to passengers.

Air India passengers will soon be able to convert their frequent flier miles into tickets of 28 airlines, including Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines and others. The national carrier is set to join the Star Alliance, which has agreed to consider the national carrier's membership.

The membership proposal of Air India was put on hold by the alliance in July 2011, when three out of 27 members vetoed its entry.

This decision came after the Star Alliance board met in Vienna today, where the member airlines decided unanimously to recommence the integration process with Air India. "The market in India is now showing signs of stabilisation. Today, we see an Air India, which has successfully completed its merger with Indian Airlines and is building up a new fleet that forms the basis for a much improved level of service. This is why we believe the time is now right to recommence the integration process," Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab was quoted in a release.

Entry into the alliance would ensure shared benefits to Air India and seamless travel to passengers, usage of frequent flier points redeemable with any member airline and global connectivity. The release quoted Air India CMD Rohit Nandan, as terming this day as 'an historic day for Air India'.

Star Alliance is the largest of the three airline alliances in the world. The other two are SkyTeam and Oneworld. According to Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation data, Star Alliance has a share of 12.9 per cent in global air traffic industry, while Oneworld and SkyTeam have market shares of 10.1 and 6.6 per cent, respectively. The alliance network offers 21,900 daily flights to 1,328 airports in 195 nations.

"With this decision, final process for eventual entry of Air India has begun. Once the airline becomes a member, Air India passengers will enjoy enormous benefits, including seamless transfers while travelling across the world, more frequent flyer mileage points, code sharing leading to a wider choice of flights," Air India said.

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