Air India is planning to spread its wings. The national carrier will be joining the Star Alliance, as a part of its global expansion plans. The membership will allow coordinated flight schedules with other airlines on a single ticket. It will also allow code sharing, splitting of the traffic to other destinations and special fares and other comforts for the passengers.
Star Alliance has Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada and United Airlines as its members. Air India had previously halted talks with Star Alliance during its merger with Indian Airlines. Air India has arrived at this decision to join the international alliance after months of deliberation and negotiations with Star Alliance, a grouping of 17 leading global airlines.
Air India had held talks with two other groupings – One World and Sky Team -- before deciding to join Star Alliance. While Star Alliance had airlines from the US, Europe, South-East Asia and the Far East, geographically there was a void in the Indian region, which would disappear with AI joining the alliance. For AI, benefits to its customers would include lounge facilities at various airports, better fares and being able to avail of frequent flier benefits by getting them redeemed on any member airline. By joining hands with Star Alliance which has Lufthansa and Austrian as its members, there is a feeling in aviation industry circles that Air India might zero in on either Munich or Vienna as its choice for an European hub.