Air India recently played host to the first ever Star Alliance Chief Executive Board Meeting (CEB) in India. This follows the national carrier’s joining the world’s longest serving and most comprehensive airline alliance in July.
Speaking to both local and foreign media in New Delhi today, Rohit Nandan, CMD Air India, thanked all CEOs for travelling to India and for a productive two-day meeting. He emphasized that for Air India membership in Star Alliance is a key pillar of the airline’s turnaround strategy, along with the fleet renewal, network optimization and an initiative to improve quality of service.
After nearly half a year in the Alliance, Air India has already seen positive effects from its membership. The airline has seen an increase of 33% in the number of passengers transferring between Air India and other Star Alliance member carriers, mainly through Delhi or Mumbai, but also at other airports such as London or Newark.
In thanking Nandan for hosting the CEB meeting, Mark Schwab, Star Alliance CEO, assured him of the Alliance’s support in this endeavour.
Schwab reiterated the importance of having Air India in Star Alliance.
“India is the world’s fifth largest domestic aviation market and will continue to grow both domestically and internationally. It is therefore essential for Star Alliance to have a strong presence in this market.”
Through Air India, Star Alliance customers have access to an additional 40 airports in India as well as more flights across the region. With its hubs in Delhi and Mumbai, Air India adds further flight options on routes to North America, Europe and Asia/Pacific.
Star Alliance is also the only Alliance to allow FFP members to use their miles to upgrade on any of its 27 member carriers. This year has also seen the implementation of new back-end technology to further enhance FFP service levels. Customers will now receive their mileage credits faster and any changes in status are shared faster among all carriers.
In closing, Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO of Air Canada and current chairman of the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board, thanked both Nandan and Schwab, especially for achieving the Air India integration in record time.
As an example of the importance of the Air India membership, Rovinescu stated that an Air Canada decision to resume flights to Delhi next year is in part due to the fact that they can now offer connections to more than 40 destinations from Delhi.
Overall the Star Alliance member carriers would be improving the quality of the network even further in the coming years – recent examples are the planned Tokyo to Houston flights by ANA, Taipei to Houston flights by EVA Air and the planned South Atlantic Link between New Zealand and Argentina, just announced by Air New Zealand.
The Alliance will also concentrate on further improving customers’ end to end journeys, by enhancing the airport experience, Rovinescu added. The Alliance had already achieved a terrific improvement at London Heathrow this year, with the opening of the new Terminal 2 – home to 23 Star Alliance airlines.
Pictured Calin Rovinescu (l), CEO of Air Canada and chairman of the Star Alliance Chief executive Board, shows solidarity with Rohit Nandan, CMD of Star Alliance’s newest member airline, Air India and Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab (r).