Just a couple of days back I was flipping through the Star Alliance magazine, and was wondering where were they going with Air India because there was no mention in the magazine of AI. However, it definitely was not a closed chapter since AI definitely needs to get into an alliance (amongst other things), to be able to get more traffic on its planes and shore up its finances.
Last year, *A left AI on the altar when the airline was grabbing all the wrong headlines for safety issues, financial issues and the systematic failure that it was going to become. There was also news that the Government of India did not appreciate that *A wanted a second partner in India in Jet Airways. Quite like a brat, I’d say. Subsequently, murmurs went around that they did also have discussions with the SkyTeam, but nothing seemed to have move forward there. Heads rolled at Air India since this debacle, as it was as much of a PR debacle as a factual one.
This morning, an Indian newspaper reported that both sides are thawing their stance and they may have a relook at AI joining *A. This move hinges on the fact that there are new people at the helm of both parties and there are some changes in the circumstances now. Mark Schwab is the new CEO for Star Alliance since the last quarter of 2011, and Rohit Nandan is the new chief executive at Air India. Since the last time things flared up in July 2011, Air India has gotten better in terms of revenues, partly because of the partial failure of Kingfisher Airlines.
As per the report, Air India and the Government of India have now climbed down from their stance of “being the only Indian carrier in *A”, to being the “First Indian carrier in *A”. While this was hush hush before, the airline has now admitted to this issue being a bone of contention earlier. And yes, looks like Jet Airways is the clear contender for second place, since Kingfisher was always likely to go with oneworld till they decided to put it ‘on hold’. There were talks of Indigo (6E) entering the fray but right now it does not seem the case.
Who will be the winner in getting the most amount of traffic from Star Alliance is an open question. However, AI will have things going for it, if it decides to induct the 787s and can use them wisely, along with a good product. In terms of network they both look competitive, however AI has spread out far in Asia and Europe as well where 9W is not going yet. Some of these routes will obviously be rehashed as a part of the network plan with *A. Not surprisingly, both AI and 9W have their European stopovers in Star Alliance hubs (Brussels for 9W and Frankfurt for AI).
I seriously hope the Star Alliance and B787 chapter can be used by these guys to kick in a good word of mouth on the back of a great product. Now lets see if this time around they do join, or is it just another reason to grab some drinks together again. Or maybe just another public forum to convince Indian Government to let Lufthansa bring their big birds (A380s) to India?
- Air India and *A can’t seem to make up their mind
- Will AI join *A and should it join?
- AI misses its flight to the *A
- SkyTeam courting AI after being dumpted by *A
- Kingfisher all set to join oneworld in February 2012
- Kingfisher’s membership to oneworld put on hold
- Heads roll at AI