Air India faces July 31 deadline to join Star Alliance

San Francisco: Lufthansa, a founding member of the Star Alliance, has said Air India needs to complete all formalities to join the global airline grouping before the final deadline of July 31.

"The Star Alliance has set the time limit for Air India to become a full-fledged member. So, it is time for Air India to prepare by July 31 and meet all criteria. All the solutions need to be worked out by that day", Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa German Airlines, said here.

Lufthansa has been Air India`s mentor, helping and guiding it complete all formalities for joining the alliance.

Asked about Jet Airways` membership application, he said the private Indian carrier "will become the second member of Star Alliance. Whoever is ready, can join. We have extended an open arm to welcome both of them".

Spohr indicated that Jet would take a few more months to join the airline grouping which has about 30-odd member airlines like Singapore Airlines, Continental Airlines and United Air Lines, Air Canada, Thai, ANA, South African Airlines, Swiss and Scandinavian, besides the German carrier.

Jointly, the alliance operates over 21,000 daily flights operating 4,000 aircraft across 1,160 airports in 181 countries. The passenger can avail the benefit of seamlessly travelling on the entire network of the alliance partners.

Recently, Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht told the media that the group`s invitation to Air India would be withdrawn if it did not fulfil all the mandatory requirements by July 31. He, however, hoped that the Indian carrier would be able to complete all formalities by that day.

Air India had started working on the technical formalities as early as in 2007 and was originally slated to join the alliance in 2010.

But it experienced trouble meeting major membership standards, especially those relating to IT system integration.

However, last month, it completed integrating its domestic and international flight code `AI` — combining `IC` and `AI` representing erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India.

Replying to questions by visiting Indian journalists, Spohr said from the point of view of the airline grouping, "there was no problem" in both the airlines joining it.

"We would appreciate both Air India and Jet Airways joining us as it will be very good for the air traveller to have such a brilliant connectivity in India and the growing air traffic demand in that region", he said.

Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav recently said the final formalities to join the alliance were near completion and he would be meeting Star Alliance officials this month.

Air India has estimated that its international revenue would grow by 3-4 per cent after a complete integration of operations with the alliance.