Home' Asian Aviation : AAV Feb 2014 Contents 10 AsianAviation | FEBRUARY 2014
As the CEOs of the 28 member Star Alliance
met in Vienna on Dec 13 to discuss the
strategy of the alliance that represents one-
third of the global aviation industry, a major
focus was on induction of members to include
Avianca Brazil and to recommence the
integration process with Air India. "This will
allow us to maintain our presence in Brazil
following the departure of TAM Airlines and to
build a presence in one of the most important
aviation markets where we do still not have
a member carrier - the Indian sub-continent,"
Mark Schwab, CEO, Star Alliance said.
Air India was invited to join Star in
2007 "to fill in the white spots" (gaps in
geography of members) when it ran into
internal problems associated with the merger
of its domestic subsidiary, Indian Airlines.
Following delays, integration of Air India into
the Star Alliance network was suspended
in 2011 which resulted in some bad blood
between the alliance and the Ministry of Civil
Aviation that made it clear Star would not
be allowed to approach any other airline for
membership including Jet Airways, until the
Air India deal was through.
At the time of suspension, SITA had
completed a large part of a US$190 million
migration of Air India and Indian Airlines that
ran on different systems- Unisys and Speedwing-
to a single code. The migration was a step
towards aligning processes and systems of the
two airlines, a requirement for Air India s entry
into Star. In addition to the core Passenger
Services Suite, SITA was contracted to
implement an online booking engine, departure
control system, check-in and automated
boarding control, baggage reconciliation
system and a frequent flyer system.
"Star Alliance has long held the opinion
that India is such an important aviation
market that it should be fully represented in
the Alliance...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," said Schwab.
It has now been jointly concurred the market
in India is showing signs of stabilisation and the
time is now right to recommence the integration
process which we aim for completion in 2014,"
Markus Ruediger, spokesman, Star Alliance
told Asian Aviation. No specific date has been
announced for the launch.
A Star Alliance Team that visited Mumbai
in December carried out a gap analysis gap
analysis to determine steps needed to be
taken for integration into the Star system.
While frequent flyer and IT issues are in
place, the branding of Star products needs to
be looked at. Asian Aviation learns from an
airline official that customer service is an area
the Star experts will be helping the carrier
with. Once the integration is complete, the
system will go through a vigorous testing.
Star has always maintained India s growing
market size justifies a second airline partner.
"(While) we still see room for more than one
Indian alliance member, (we will see) how
the combination will develop," said Ruediger.
Our main aim (for the moment) is to have Air
India fulfill requirements," 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.
Nandan has cause to celebrate as his airline
gets set to align with world airlines. Business
in the past two years has been tough going
for Indian carriers affected by the onslaught
of Middle East carriers, a weakened rupee
that led to a sharp increase in aviation turbine
fuel, falling yields and an ailing economy.
European carriers, too, have been losing
business as Gulf carriers fly Indian passengers
to the US, Africa and South America via UAE
hubs, avoiding European hubs.
Star has said in the past it will leverage
its joint purchasing power for members in
areas such as aircraft interiors to help achieve
savings. "Many of today s global standards
in aviation have been created by Alliance
experts, for instance, in safety, through check-in
or barcode technology," said Christoph Franz,
CEO, Lufthansa. With many members of Star
facing 787 issues, it is likely there will be some
shared lessons there too. -- Neelam Mathews
Air India was invited to join
Star in 2007 to fill a gap
in global coverage, when it
ran into internal problems
associated with the merger
of its domestic subsidiary,
" e decision to recommence
the Star Alliance integration
process will be beneficial for
Rohit Nandan, chairman
and managing director
Air India back in Star fold
Rohit Nandan, Air India chairman and managing director (right) addresses
a media briefing in Vienna, Austria following the decision by the CEOs of
Star Alliance member airlines to recommence proceedings to integrate
Air India into Star Alliance. Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu (left) looks on
NEWS IN BRIEF
Vietjet selects CFM56
Vietjet Air has signed an memorandum of
understanding (MoU) for up to 46 CFM56
engines. These are for aircraft that form part
of the MoU agreed with Airbus last year
for 92 A320s, consisting of 42 A320neo,
14 A320ceo and six A321ceo, plus 30
purchase rights. Airbus says the Vietjet order
should be "finalised soon." The CFM deal
covered the 20 current engine types.
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