Air India integration to Star Alliance was halted in 2011, but seems that someone must have changed their mind as the airline is back on track to become a member. You can read more about this on USA Today (access here).
Star Alliance lost both TAM and US Airways to Oneworld alliance that has one of the big three Gulf Carriers, Qatar Airways, under its umbrella.
The alliance must have felt that they need an airline in the Indian Subcontinent. Emirates has clearly communicated that it is not interested in becoming an alliance member and Etihad is building up its own alliance through minority ownership in number of airlines.
Here’s the Star Alliance pres release:
VIENNA, Austria – December 13th, 2013 – At their board meeting held in Vienna today, the Chief Executives of the Star Alliance member airlines decided unanimously to recommence the integration process with Air India.
“Star Alliance has long held the opinion that India is such an important aviation market that it should be fully represented in the Alliance,” said Mark Schwab, Star Alliance CEO. “However the level of change in the domestic market in recent years did not make it easy for an airline to become an alliance member.”
“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,” he added.
“Today is an historic day for Air India. The decision to recommence the Star Alliance integration process will be beneficial for both sides. We are grateful for the warmth, support and encouragement with which all Alliance members have welcomed the decision”, said Rohit Nandan, Air India Chairman and Managing Director.
The Indian national carrier was originally accepted as a future member of Star Alliance in December 2007, but the integration process was halted in July 2011. The suspension was a joint decision which allowed Air India to focus on completing its merger with Indian Airlines, without the distraction of the work required for full integration into the Star Alliance network.
Here’s the announcement back in 2011:
This Air India and Star Alliance “partnership” saga has been quite a farce. The airline was set to become a member and suddenly it was not. Then the alliance was courting Jet Airways that is now partly owned by Etihad. Sounds like they are becoming desperate?