Air India misses its flight onto the Star Alliance

Like I blogged before taking off on my 3-week vacation here, it was going to take a hell of a lot of miracles to happen for Air India to make it to the Star Alliance. The airline is in a mess, and it works the standard Indian bureaucratic way.

Here is the next big news that came, although almost totally expected. The 27 member Chief Executive Board of the Star Alliance has voted to keep AI out of the alliance for the reasons of not meeting the agreed membership requirements. WSJ published the news article on this here and the New York Times has it here. This punctures the whole turnaround plan for the airline after the other issue that hit it this past week about the new B787 in production which hit a technical snag during a test flight.

I concur that the Alliance is a mix of the service quality of the good and bad airlines like SQ, NZ and LH on one side and CA on the other side. But AI took the tardy approach to a whole new hilt by repeatedly busting deadlines and then expecting induction. Air India’s political masters thought that they would find their way in by strong arm tactics (access to the vast Indian market) etc, but perhaps that did not cut ice with the rest of the world.

Personally, I think that this is not an AI problem. The mess is created by the merger of AI and IC. IC was a badly run airline and I noticed that earlier this year on a domestic flight I took after long on BBI-BOM with them that the service standards just kept going down. On the other hand I hear lovely reviews of AI on the BOM-JFK sectors (amongst others) by people who travel there, at least in J class.

Now that the call on AI is taken, I hope 9W decides quickly and moves into an alliance. I really find it annoying to not have any alliances in India just yet to be able to earn EQMs.

PS: Edited to add the Star Alliance press release here.

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