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Star Alliance, AI officials to meet Govt soon

Singapore: With Air India’s July 31 deadline to join Star Alliance approaching, senior officials of the global umbrella body of airline and those from the national carrier would soon meet Indian government officials, to discuss the progress made in this direction.

The Star Alliance, which has leading carriers like Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines as its members, has given the final deadline to the ailing national carrier to fulfil all requirements by then, to join the global grouping.

An Air India official said, representatives of Star Alliance and Air India would meet officials of the government and the Civil Aviation Ministry to apprise them on the progress made by Air India to join Star Alliance network.

The meeting is also expected to finalise the date of Air India’s formal entry into Star Alliance, the official said.

The decision came days after Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav had a meeting with the alliance’s Chief Executives Board at Barcelona last week.

“In a meeting of the Star Alliance’s Chief Executives Board at Barcelona on June 3, 2011, the Star Alliance GmbH apprised the readiness of Air India to join Star Alliance within July 31, 2011,” an Air India spokesperson in Delhi said.

He quoted Jadhav, who attended that meeting, as saying. “Air India is looking forward to join Star Alliance, as scheduled”.

Besides Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, Star Alliance, formed in 1997, has 27 member airlines including Air Canada, Thai Airways and Swiss, which jointly have a fleet of more than 4,000 aircraft serving 181 countries.

Star Alliance has certain minimum joining requirements, which involve development and testing of systems and procedures to harmonise the product with other member airlines, including having a single airline code.

Air India, which recently merged the two codes IC (for erstwhile Indian Airlines) and AI (for Air India) into AI, has a fleet size of 127 aircraft.

It operates to 63 domestic and 33 international destinations.

Four years have passed since Star Alliance first mooted Air India as a prospective member.

Full membership was supposed to have become a reality by last year but was delayed due to various reasons, including not having a single code for domestic and international operations.

While Star Alliance wants both Air India and Jet Airways to join it, Kingfisher Airlines would join Star’s major rival ‘oneworld’ by February next year.

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